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Social distancing and good hygiene

Who does this guidance apply to?

This guidance is for everyone, including children. It advises everyone that we must practice social distancing measures to reduce social interaction between people in order to reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). 

What is social distancing?

Social distancing is where you try to avoid crowded places, large gatherings of people or close contact with a group of people. In these situations, viruses can easily spread from person to person.  

Limiting face-to-face contact with others is the best way to reduce the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). In general, a distance of two metres (6 feet) will slow the spread of a disease, but more distance is more effective. 

Social distancing measures are steps you can take to reduce social interaction between people. This will help reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). 

They are to: 

  • avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough
  • avoid non-essential use of public transport when possible
  • work from home, where possible. Your employer should support you to do this 
  • use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services

Everyone should be trying to follow these measures as much as is practicable.

Good hygiene practices 

We can all reduce the spread of germs or infections by hand washing - always wash your hands regularly with soap and water. If soap and water is not available use an alcohol based hand rub instead. 

  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Stay home if you are sick or if you develop coronavirus symptoms (so you do not spread the illness to other people)
  • Use a tissue, or cough and sneeze into your arm, not your hand. Turn away from other people
  • Use single-use tissues. Dispose of the tissue immediately
  • Wash your hands after coughing, sneezing or using tissues
  • Avoid close contact with people who have symptoms
  • If working with children, have them play with hard surface toys that can be easily cleaned
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands (viruses can transfer from your hands and into the body)
  • Do not share cups, glasses, dishes or cutlery
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the home

Workplace hygiene 

Workplaces can help by having an infection control plan in place which includes: 

  • providing clean handwashing facilities.
  • offering alcohol-based hand sanitisers when regular facilities are not available (or to people out delivering or on the road)
  • providing boxes of tissues and encouraging their use
  • providing disinfectant wipes, especially for use in common areas
  • cleaning surfaces more often, such as door knobs, handles, stair railings, bars, desks, phones, kitchens, shared computers, cash registers, elevator buttons and restaurant tables/menus
  • reminding staff to not share cups, glasses, dishes and cutlery. Be sure dishes are washed in soap and water after use
  • removing magazines and papers from waiting areas or common rooms (such as tea rooms and kitchens)
  • considering cleaning a person's workstation or other areas where they have been if a person has suspected or identified with an infection
  • making sure ventilation systems are working properly

Also see: 

Guidance on cleaning in non-healthcare settings - COVID19 - (non-clinical settings) 

Handwashing and hygiene  

Managing household waste  

We strongly advise everyone to follow the above measures as much as you can and to significantly reduce the risk of infection by reducing your day-to-day contact with friends and family and people outside of your household.   

This is especially important for those who are:  

  • over 70
  • have an underlying health condition
  • are pregnant

If you develop symptoms follow the self-isolation guidance.