Don't stand so close to me please!

Right from the start of the coronavirus pandemic, we have seen many countries introducing social distancing measures and the UK,
naturally, followed suit not long after. Ever since then, complaints from people saying some are not sticking to the rules have been numerous. In response, the supermarkets have limited the number of people in the shops and have asked people to respect the two-meter exclusion zone around others in the shop; however, not everyone is doing this. Consequently, the lack of cooperation from some members of the public has caused some others to feel anxious. Now there is a desire to speak out at people at the time of the indiscretion, but this is not a good idea. Speaking out at people that violate your two-meter personal space exposes them to risk of infection, it exposes you to risk of infection and may expose others to the same risk.

Speaking out at people at the time of the indiscretion is not a good idea because it may put that person at risk from infection. Why is this? Well, the coronavirus is not airborne like Measles so it can’t hang around in the air
for distances greater than a meter; therefore, it needs another method of transport to travel from one person to the other. It achieves this when people cough, sneeze or talk. The World Health Organisation (2020) has this to say about how the virus spreads: ‘…People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets…’ Notably, the virus is contained within droplets.  Every time you exhale, water vapour and droplets of mucus are expelled from the lungs. If any pathogens are in any of the minute droplets in the lungs, they will be expelled into the surrounding air unnoticed. If someone is in that surrounding area, it is possible for that person to breathe in the water vapour containing the virus in what is called microaspiration. As a result, if someone steps into your two-meter space and you speak to them for any reason, you are the one putting them at risk.  Not surprisingly, the best way to deal with such a situation is to stay calm and say nothing.

If you speak to someone in your personal space, they will likely put you at risk of infection. How can this be so? If you speak to someone they are likely to respond. Consequently, you are now at risk of infection for the same reasons as stated above. Not only that, the person may not be a calm person and they may shout at you, which will spread any pathogens even further! This can result in you being covered in the virus and all because you didn’t stay calm. Furthermore, any objects in the vicinity will now also be covered in pathogens, which you or someone else may then touch. The World Health Organisation (2020) has this to say: ‘…droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.’ Why put yourself at risk? Stay calm and set a good example to others by not mentioning to others if they step into your space.

Causing a scene will cause others to investigate. If you speak out to someone in your space and they respond this is likely to invoke the attention of others nearby who will likely come to investigate. Now, in a short time, you find yourself in a small group that is putting everyone in it at risk because of the way that COVID-19 spreads. The World Health Organisation (2020) states on their website: ‘…it is important to stay more than 1 meter (3 feet) away from a person who is sick…’. I guess to be on the save side, in the UK we have been told to stay 2 meters apart. All of this could be avoided if you choose to stay calm and not invite any exchange of words. All that matters is you are following the rules in this unusual time.

Every time you speak to others within two meters, you are putting them at and your self by consequence at risk because of the way the coronavirus is spread. Now you know the coronavirus can be spread by talking I predict that you we choose to stay calm and not try telling people to get out of your space.


The World Health Organisation (08/04/2020) Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19) [Online] Available at (Accessed on 12/04/20)


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