Setting up lawn chairs in driveways for socially-distant neighbourhood parties. Talking to one another from apartment building balconies. Driving to parking lots to chat from cars parked two metres apart.
People have been finding innovative ways to keep socializing with friends and neighbours while trying to respect physical distancing measures during the COVID-19 outbreak.
While it may seem harmless enough, some experts say those social distancing loopholes are probably not worth the risk.
“As humans we will always find ways to kind of push limitations, to figure out how we can work around problems,” microbiologist Jason Kindrachuk said in a phone interview with The Canadian Press.
“But that’s where, as far as public messaging goes, we need to keep reiterating the sheer importance of social distancing, why we’re doing this in the first place.
“And how many risks are we willing to take that may potentially result in spreading this virus?”
The coronavirus is transmitted by respiratory droplets, which are released into the air when infected individuals breathe, talk, sneeze or cough. The droplets will generally travel about two metres before they hit the ground, said Kindrachuk.
That means keeping a safe distance, at least two metres or six feet away from someone else, is one of the most effective methods we have for halting the spread.
Kindrachuk, who’s also an assistant professor of viral pathogenesis at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, said maintaining a two-metre distance while trying to socialize can be easier to do in some cases _ like talking to a neighbour from your backyard deck with a fence serving as a physical barrier.
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When you’re outside with nothing standing between you and the person you’re socializing with, however, the barrier becomes much easier to blur.
“If you’re on two driveways, are you actually six feet apart? Are you going to take as many precautions or are you going to start to maybe reduce some of your concerns, just out of out of basic comfort?” Kindrachuk said. “If you’re in that group, are you certain that every person there is maintaining that physical distance?