A few weeks ago, nobody knew what social distancing was and even now, it can be hard to really understand what it means.
Most generally, it means limiting contact with other people in order to prevent the spread of an infectious disease. That practice itself is nothing new. The idea of quarantine goes back to the 14th century, when ships coming in to Venice were told to wait offshore for 40 days to prevent the spread of plague.
That’s where the word “quarantine” comes from. More recently, the Government of Canada signed an updated Quarantine Act into law after the SARS outbreak of 2003.
Under that law, which is in place today, the government has the power to designate quarantine stations in buildings across the country (including privately-owned ones) to stop the spread of a disease. As a law, it is enforceable and would be mandatory if in place.
Thankfully, we’re not there yet.
Social distancing is like quarantine-lite. It is a suggested action, which allows people to have some control over how fast the virus spreads. What it really means though, is staying at home and avoiding contact with anyone who doesn’t live in your house.
The only official advice from governments as of March 23 is to avoid crowded places, non-essential gatherings and limit contact with other people.
In reality, social isolation means more than just that.
Assume the virus is everywhere. That is the easiest way to ensure people take the proper precautions without going to a mandatory lockdown. If you assume the virus to be everywhere, the only way you can limit the spread is to stay away from other people.
Thanks to social media and an interconnected world, this is not a solitary confinement sentence. It is only a physical separation to make sure things don’t get out of control.
Going outside is still allowed. You are still allowed to hike, to ride your bike, work and play in your yard and walk your dog. These activities just have to be done far away from other people.
Campbell River and the area have plenty of trails and places to play that are far away from anyone else. We only ask that those venturing outside take extra care not to injure themselves and end up in the hospital.
Activity can be done inside as well. Online yoga classes, home gym training, dance lessons, and treadmills can all be great ways to stay fit and healthy. Strong bodies have strong immune systems, and activity helps feed the brain. For more brain food, try learning a new skill while you’re isolated. Pick up knitting, sock darning, a musical instrument (provided you have patient roommates) or a paintbrush.
This is also a good time to learn about an area of study that you’ve been curious about, but have never had the time to delve into.
A major part of social distancing is the “social” side. Technology allows us to see and talk to our friends even if they are in a different building, and people should be taking advantage of that.
People are scared, and reaching out to loved ones is a great way to show how we’re all in this together and that they are not alone. With all this extra time on peoples’ hands, they are going to be much more receptive to a text message or phone call.
Through this social distancing phenomenon, people will still need to eat and buy food. Restaurants have been ordered to close their dining rooms by the provincial government, but many are still delivering food to people’s doors.
Some things to remember are to keep a regular routine, shower and groom every day, avoid drinking and smoking cannabis to excess and try to live as normal of a life as you can. Eat healthy and be active.
Social distancing means avoiding physical contact (being in the same room) with other people, limiting outings to grocery shopping and picking up medications, taking care of yourself and enjoying the time you have. Call your mom and wash your hands.