What Is ‘Social-Distancing’ – And How Does It Work?

Boris Johnson has instructed everyone in the UK to avoid all non-essential social contact and travel. Here's what that means.

Boris Johnson has urged people in the UK to avoid all non-essential contact and travel as the country escalates its response to the coronavirus pandemic. The prime minister also said people should avoid pubs, clubs and theatres, and to work from home when possible.

The aim of these measures, known as social distancing, is to further reduce the contact people have with each other, based on the knowledge that coronaviruses can be spread when those with the virus have close, sustained contact with people who aren’t infected.

Spending more than 15 minutes within two metres of an infected person would be enough to catch the Covid-19 strain, Public Health England suggested.

What social-distancing means for you

Social-distancing means a change in how you go about your daily life. It means avoiding all non-essential contact and travel. People have also been urged to work from home and to avoid social venues, like pubs and clubs, and mass gatherings.

The prime minister said the advice “about avoiding all social contact is particularly important for people over 70, for pregnant women and for those with some health conditions”.

Public transport is likely to be be hit hard by the measures. PHE previously said it would consider temporarily closing transport in certain areas if the virus started to spread rapidly.

During a press conference on Monday, Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, said social-distancing should help reduce the pandemic’s peak and death rate but that further measures, such as closing schools, may be required.

Adopting social-distancing could slow the spread of coronavirus in the UK and reduce the peak number of cases by up to a half, Sky News reported.