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Social distancing

Social distancing means trying to avoid contact with other people. It means spending less time in public places, where a lot of people are around.

Coronaviruses can be spread when people with the virus have close, sustained contact with people who are not infected.

This typically means spending more than 15 minutes within two metres of an infected person, such as talking to someone.

The more you come into contact with the droplets from coughs and sneezes of an infected person, the more likely you are to catch the infection.

This is the reason why people who either have the infection or show symptoms are being asked to self-isolate at home and reduce the risk of infecting others.


This guidance is for everyone, including children. It advises on social distancing measures we should all be taking to reduce social interaction between people in order to reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). It is intended for use in situations where people are living in their own homes, with or without additional support from friends, family and carers. The advice from Thursday 26 March 2020, is for everyone to stay at home.  The only exceptions are:

  1.   collection of medication and any other medical need
  2.   exercising once a day, either alone or only with other members of your household
  3.   postal services
  4.   providing support for vulnerable adults
  5.   purchase of food, pet supplies
  6.   moving under 18s between the homes of separated parents
  7.   travelling to and from work but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home

If you are aged 70 and over, are pregnant or have an underlying health condition and have been advised to get a flu jab each year, then you should be especially stringent in following these measures.  

Be aware: These measures have been put in place to protect the Island’s community, and are enforceable by law. Legislation introduced under the Emergency Power Act can see penalties of up to £10,000 or three months in prison for those breaking rules on social distancing and self-isolation. Once approved by the Legislative Council, police will also be able to issue on-the-spot fines of up to £250 for those infringing stay at home guidelines. 

Handwashing and respiratory hygiene

There are general principles you can follow to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • washing your hands more often - with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitiser when you get home or into work, when you blow your nose, sneeze or cough, eat or handle food
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • avoid close contact with people who have symptoms
  • cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin and wash your hands
  • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the home


It is important that people continue to take exercise for the physical and mental health benefits.  However, exercise needs to be taken in ways that minimise person to person contact.  In practice, the best types of exercise to achieve this are:

  • walking
  • bike rides
  • running

You (if exercising alone) or your household group should keep a distance of 2 metres from others.

Things to avoid:

  • Exercising in groups which include people who do not live in your household
  • Sharing car rides with people outside your household to get to a place for exercise
  • Linking other activities to exercise – e.g. picnicking or stopping at a café
  • Using public drinking water fountains

Things to think about:

  • Taking care about visiting places for exercise that could be crowded (e.g. popular beaches, parks)
  • Being careful about touching solid surfaces – e.g. gates, doors, etc. Wash your hands as soon as you get home, avoid touching your face and take hand sanitiser with you to use while out if possible