Social distancing is the same thing as physical distancing, which is a practice recommended by public health officials to stop or slow down the spread of contagious diseases. It requires the creation of physical space between individuals who may spread certain infectious diseases. The key is to minimize the number of gatherings as much as possible and to achieve space between individuals when events or activities cannot be modified, postponed, or canceled. Achieving space between individuals of approximately six feet (or more) is advisable.
Social distancing is recommended because the virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). If you are leaving your home, you should practice physical distancing to protect yourself from COVID-19.
The term “shelter in place” means to stay in your home and not leave unless it is necessary for one of the exceptions listed in the Order.
Sheltering in place is a more rigorous form of social distancing.
Sheltering in place means you:
- Must stay at home
- Can only leave your home for “essential activities,” “outdoor activities” or “additional activities,” to work for an “essential business,” “outdoor business” or “additional business” to provide or access “essential governmental functions,” to perform “minimum basic operations” for your employer, or for “essential travel,” as those terms are defined in the new Order (you can also see the FAQs for details)
- Cannot host or attend any gatherings
In addition, you should also maintain at least 6 feet of separation from other people who are not in your household; wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds each time (or use hand sanitizer); cough or sneeze into a tissue or your sleeve (not into your hands); wear a face covering when out in public, as required in the Health Officer’s April 17, 2020 Order; and stay home if you are sick.
Governmental entities are strongly encouraged to complete Site-Specific Protection Plans for each of their facilities that remain open for any essential governmental functions, though the Order does not require them to do so. Just as with private businesses, Site-Specific Protection Plans assist governments in implementing risk reduction measures identified by the Health Officer, ensure that government agency staff and community members accessing government services are protected, and inform government employees and members of the public visiting the facilities about their respective responsibilities to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Each department or agency continuing to perform essential governmental functions at the workplace is encouraged to complete and implement a Site-Specific Protection Plan for its facilities and post the plan where it is publicly visible.