Social distancing measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic

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Painted white circles spaced 8 feet (2.4 m) apart at Dolores Park in San Francisco, May 2020

During the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing measures have been implemented nearly worldwide in order to slow the spread of the disease. This article details the history of the social distancing measures, a list of countries implementing them, when they were implemented, and other details about the measures.[citation needed]

Background[edit]

Social distancing measures on public ground

Social distancing, or physical distancing,[1][2][3] is a set of non-pharmaceutical interventions or measures taken to prevent the spread of a contagious disease by maintaining a physical distance between people and reducing the number of times people come into close contact with each other.[1][4] It involves keeping a distance of six feet or two meters from others and avoiding gathering together in large groups.[5][6]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing and related measures were recommended by several governments as alternatives to an enforced quarantine of heavily affected areas. According to UNESCO monitoring, more than a hundred countries implemented nationwide school closures in response to COVID-19, impacting over half the world's student population.[7] In the United Kingdom, the government advised the public to avoid public spaces, and cinemas and theatres voluntarily closed to encourage the government's message.[8]

With many people at the time disbelieving that COVID-19 is any worse than the seasonal flu,[9] it was difficult to convince the public to voluntarily adopt social distancing practices. In Belgium, media reported a rave was attended by at least 300 before it was broken up by local authorities. In France, teens making nonessential trips are fined up to US$150. Beaches were closed in Florida and Alabama to disperse partygoers during spring break.[10] Weddings were broken up in New Jersey and an 8 p.m. curfew was imposed in Newark. New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania were the first states to adopt coordinated social distancing policies which closed down non-essential businesses and restricted large gatherings. Shelter in place orders in California were extended to the entire state on 19 March. On the same day, Texas declared a public disaster and imposed statewide restrictions.[11]

These preventive measures such as social-distancing and self-isolation prompted the widespread closure of primary, secondary, and post-secondary schools in more than 120 countries. As of 23 March 2020, more than 1.2 billion learners were out of school due to school closures in response to COVID-19.[7] Given low rates of COVID-19 symptoms among children, the effectiveness of school closures has been called into question.[12] Even when school closures are temporary, it carries high social and economic costs.[13] However, the significance of children in spreading COVID-19 is unclear.[14][15] While the full impact of school closures during the coronavirus pandemic are not yet known, UNESCO advises that school closures have negative impacts on local economies and on learning outcomes for students.[16]

In early March 2020, the sentiment "Stay The Fuck Home" was coined by Florian Reifschneider, a German engineer and was quickly echoed by notable celebrities such as Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande[17][18] and Busy Philipps[19] in hopes of reducing and delaying the peak of the outbreak. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram also joined the campaign with similar hashtags, stickers and filters under #staythefhome, #stayhome, #staythefuckhome and began trending across social media.[20][21][22][23] The website claims to have reached about two million people online and says the text has been translated into 17 languages.[23]

It has been suggested that improving ventilation and managing exposure duration can reduce transmission.[24][25]

Afghanistan[edit]

Australia[edit]

Social distancing signs at shops in Brisbane.
  • 20 March: Restrictions on non-essential events.[27]
    • Non-essential indoor gatherings of greater than 100 people banned.
    • Outdoor events with more than 500 attendees banned.
  • 22 March: Restrictions on social gatherings and 'non-essential' businesses.[27]
    • Facilities restricted from opening: Pubs, registered and licensed clubs (excluding bottle shops attached to these venues), hotels (excluding accommodation); gyms and indoor sporting venues; cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos, and nightclubs; restaurants and cafes were limited to takeaway and/or home delivery; religious gatherings, places of worship or funerals (in enclosed spaces and other than very small groups and where the ‘1 person per 4sqm’ (40 sq. ft.) rule applies).
  • 29 March: Restriction on public gatherings to two people.[27]

China[edit]

  • 23 January: Travel from Wuhan prohibited.[27]
  • 29 January: People ordered to stay home unless necessary.[27]
  • 4 February: all higher education moved online.[27]

Denmark[edit]

  • 13 March: All non-essential public services closed, including schools and day cares.[27]
  • 17 March: Gatherings of more than 10 people banned.[27]

Germany[edit]

  • 16 March: Non-essential public services closed.[27]
  • 22 March: Public gatherings banned.[27] Curfews (with exceptions for certain essential activities) implemented in 5 of the 16 federal states. Entry-ban for non-residents (including German citizens with residence in another federal state) implemented in an additional 2 of the 16 federal states.[28][29]

Indonesia[edit]

Muslims in Indonesia pray in congregation while imposing to strict protocols during the global pandemic. Physical distancing and the wearing of masks in public is mandatory in Indonesia during the COVID-19 outbreak, including in places of worship
  • 15 March: President Joko Widodo has called upon for all Indonesians to exercise social distancing measures, with some regional leaders who have already closed down schools and public places.[30] In a statement the following day, he stated that he was not going for a full lockdown and lightly criticised regional leaders who did implement lockdown.[31]
  • 31 March: President Joko Widodo signed the Government Law Regulation No. 21/2020, which regulated large-scale social restrictions (PSBB), allowing regional governments to restrict the movement of people and goods in and out of their respective localities provided they had received permission from the relevant ministry (in this case the Ministry of Health, under Terawan Putranto). The law also defined a "minimal" restriction as including school and work holidays, limitations on physical worship, and limitations on public gatherings. At the same time, Presidential Decision 11/2020 was also signed, declaring a national disaster. Both laws were based on the Law No. 6 of 2018 on Medical Quarantines, which had provisions for PSBB.[32][33][34]

Netherlands[edit]

  • 12 March: Gatherings of more than 100 people banned.[27]
  • 13 March: Prison visitations limited to legal affairs.[27]
  • 15 March: All food and beverage outlets, bars, cafes, restaurants, gyms, saunas, sex clubs and coffee shops required to close, except for takeaway and delivery services.[27] Schools closed.
  • 17 March: All education services closed.[27]
  • 23 March: Visits to youth, disability and psychiatric care restricted.[27]
  • 23 March: Ban on non-essential outdoors activities, gatherings with more than 2 people banned, 1.5 meter introduced.[27]

New Zealand[edit]

  • 21 March: Restricted visits to aged care facilities.[27]
  • 22 March: At risk individuals ordered to stay home.[27]
  • 23 March: All individuals ordered to stay home unless carrying essential activities.[27]
  • 23 March: All non-essential services closed.[27]

Pakistan[edit]

Russia[edit]

  • 16 March: higher educational institutions switch to distance education.[35]
  • 18 March: announced schools dismiss for three weeks, employees are urged to allow remote work.
  • 19 March: mandatory 2 weeks self-isolation for all travelers entering the country.
  • 22 March: citywide lockdown in Moscow for a week.[36]
  • 27 March: all international flights suspended.
  • 30 March: lockdown prolonged up to April 30.[36]
  • 30 March: St Petersburg and several regions join the lockdown.[37][38][39]

Singapore[edit]

Below is a summary of the Risk Levels being imposed by the government:[40]

Level Measures Date
Level 0 Gatherings of up to 2 people are allowed in public space.
Home visits are allowed up to 2 people per day.
All mask-off activities must cease (e.g. dining-in)
Shopping mall occupancy limit is 16sqm per person
Attractions, museums, public libraries and show capacity is 25%
50 people are allowed in events without PET, 100 people are allowed in events with PET
Remote work as default
Wakes and funerals are only allowed up to 20 persons at any one time.
No wedding receptions allowed
May 2020 - 1 June 2020
16 May 2021 - 13 June 2021
22 July 2021 - 9 August 2021
Level 1a Gatherings of up to 5 people are allowed in public space.
Home visits are allowed up to 5 people per day.
No dining-in is allowed.
Shopping mall occupancy limit is 10sqm per person
Attractions, museums, public libraries and show capacity is 50%
50 people are allowed in events without PET, 250 people are allowed in events with PET
Remote work as default
Wakes and funerals are only allowed up to 20 persons at any one time.
No wedding receptions allowed
7 April 2020 - 4 May 2020
2 June 2020 - 18 June 2020
14 June 2021 - 20 June 2021
Level 1b Gatherings of up to 5 people are allowed in public space.
Home visits are allowed up to 5 people per day.
Dining-in is allowed up to 2 people.
Shopping mall occupancy limit is 10sqm per person
Attractions, museums, public libraries and show capacity is 50%
50 people are allowed in events without PET, 250 people are allowed in events with PET
Up to 50% of workers are allowed in the workplace at any one time
Wakes and funerals are only allowed up to 20 persons at any one time.
19 June 2020 - 16 July 2020
8 May 2021 - 15 May 2021
19 July 2021 - 21 July 2021
Level 1c Gatherings of up to 5 people are allowed in public space.
Home visits are allowed up to 5 people per day.
Dining-in is allowed up to 5 people.
Shopping mall occupancy limit is 10sqm per person
Attractions, museums, public libraries and show capacity is 50%
50 people are allowed in events without PET, 250 people are allowed in events with PET
Up to 50% of workers are allowed in the workplace at any one time
Wakes and funerals are only allowed up to 30 persons at any one time.
26 March 2020 - 6 April 2020
17 July 2020 - 27 December 2020
8 May 2021 - 15 May 2021
12 July 2021 - 18 July 2021
Level 2 Gatherings of up to 8 people are allowed in public space.
Home visits are allowed up to 8 people per day.
Dining-in is allowed up to 8 people.
Shopping mall occupancy limit is 8sqm per person
Attractions, museums, public libraries and show capacity is 65%
100-250 people are allowed in events without PET, 750 people are allowed in events with PET
Up to 85-100% of workers are allowed in the workplace at any one time
Wakes and funerals are only allowed up to 30-50 persons at any one time.
29 January 2020 - 25 March 2020
28 December 2020 - 7 May 2021
Level V1 Gatherings of up to 5 people are allowed in public space.
Home visits are allowed up to 5 people per day.
Dining-in is allowed up to 5 people provided if vaccinated, if not vaccinated is up to 2 people.
Shopping mall occupancy limit is 10sqm per person
Attractions, museums, public libraries and show capacity is 50%
50 people are allowed in events without PET, 1000 people are allowed in events with PET
Up to 30% of workers are allowed in the workplace at any one time (From 11 September 2021, workers allowed at workplace will be up to company's discretion)
Wakes and funerals are only allowed up to 30 persons at any one time.
10 August 2021 - 27 September 2021
Level S1 Gatherings of up to 5 people are allowed in public space.
Home visits are allowed up to 5 people per day.
Dining-in is allowed up to 2 people.
Shopping mall occupancy limit is 10sqm per person
Attractions, museums, public libraries and show capacity is 50%
50 people are allowed in events without PET, 1000 people are allowed in events with PET
Wakes and funerals are only allowed up to 30 persons at any one time.
28 September 2021 - 12 October 2021
Level S2 Gatherings of up to 5 people are allowed in public space.
Home visits are allowed up to 5 people per day.
Dining-in is allowed up to 2 people if vaccinated. No dining-in for non-vaccinated.
Shopping mall occupancy limit is 10sqm per person
Attractions, museums, public libraries and show capacity is 50%
50 people are allowed in events without PET, 1000 people are allowed in events with PET
Wakes and funerals are only allowed up to 30 persons at any one time.
13 October 2021 - 10 November 2021
Level S3 Gatherings of up to 5 people are allowed in public space.
Home visits are allowed up to 5 people per day.
Dining-in is allowed up to 2 people if vaccinated (5 if same household, only for restaurants). No dining-in for non-vaccinated.
Shopping mall occupancy limit is 10sqm per person
Attractions, museums, public libraries and show capacity is 50%
50 people are allowed in events without PET, 1000 people are allowed in events with PET
Wakes and funerals are only allowed up to 30 persons at any one time.
11 November 2021 - 21 November 2021
Level V2 Gatherings of up to 5 people are allowed in public space.
Home visits are allowed up to 5 people per day.
Dining-in is allowed up to 5 people if vaccinated, except for coffeeshops which is up to 2 people. No dining-in for non-vaccinated.
Shopping mall occupancy limit is 10sqm per person
Attractions, museums, public libraries and show capacity is 50%
50 people are allowed in events without PET, 1000 people are allowed in events with PET
Wakes and funerals are only allowed up to 30 persons at any one time.
22 November 2021 - February 2022
Level V3 Gatherings of up to 5 people are allowed in public space.
Home visits are allowed up to 5 people per day.
Dining-in is allowed up to 5 people if vaccinated, except for coffeeshops which is up to 2 people. No dining-in for non-vaccinated.
Shopping mall occupancy limit is 10sqm per person
Attractions, museums, public libraries and show capacity is 50%
1000 people are allowed in events
Wakes and funerals are only allowed up to 30 persons at any one time.
February 2022 - 29 March 2022
Level T1 Gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed in public space.
Home visits are allowed up to 10 people per day.
Dining-in is allowed up to 10 people if vaccinated, except for coffeeshops and hawker centers which is up to 5 people. No dining-in for non-vaccinated.
Capacity space is capped at 1000 people.
29 March 2022 - 26 April 2022

Turkey[edit]

  • 12 March: Closed schools and universities.[41]
  • 15 March: Closed libraries, pavilions, discotheques, bars and night clubs.[42]
  • 16 March: Closed mosques, cafes, gyms, Internet cafés and movie theaters.[43][44][45]
  • 19 March: Postponed football, volleyball, basketball and handball leagues.[46]
  • 21 March: Imposed a total curfew for those who are over the age 65 or chronically ill.[47] Closed restaurants, dining places and patisseries to the public for dining in, only allowing home delivery and take-away.[48]
  • 3 April: Extended the curfew to people younger than 20 years old.[49]
  • 10 April: Declared curfews for the upcoming weekend in the 30 provinces with metropolitan status and Zonguldak, lasting for 48 hours.[50]
  • 13 April: Announced that until further notice such curfews would be in force also during subsequent weekends.[51]

United Kingdom[edit]

  • 18 March: Closed schools.[27]
  • 21 March: Closed bars, restaurants, cafes and other entertainment venues.[27]
  • 22 March: Advised vulnerable people to stay at home.[27][52]
  • 23 March: Initiated Lockdown Phase, Closed most businesses.[27]
    • Restaurants, pubs, cafes and the like must close, but can operate food delivery and takeaway services. All retail must close except for supermarkets, medical services, pharmacies, petrol stations, bicycle shops, hardware shops, gardening shops, corner shops and newsagents, alcohol shops, laundrettes, post offices, and some other retailers. Hotels and other accommodation services must close but may provide accommodation to stranded foreign nationals, critical workers and homeless and other vulnerable people. Libraries, museums, community centres, and places for worship must close. Gyms, parks, sports and recreation facilities must close.[27]
    • Directed people to stay home except for shopping for necessities, seeking medical care or looking after a vulnerable person, and travelling to and from work which cannot be done at home.[27]

United States[edit]

States, territories, and counties that issued a stay-at-home order:
  Came into effect before 22 March
  Came into effect before 29 March
  Came into effect before 5 April
  Came into effect before 12 April
Full map including municipalities

Debate[edit]

While enjoying broad support among epidemiologists, the social distancing measures are at times politically controversial. Intellectual support for the opposition tends to come from writers of other fields, although there are a few heterodox epidemiologists.[54]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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