Is it time to relax the 2m social distancing guideline? (WHO guidance is 1m)

What change do you think should happen to social distancing guidelines?


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yorksrob

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Yes the balance. I see cases of people flaunting the rules for no benefit but for themselves and they do it in the belief that it won't hurt them - selfish. I think we need to relax lockdown as much as we dare. i am horrified that advice is to avoid public transport as this will make the roads terrible. But the 2 meter distancing rule is the necessary culprit.

The government has said that a fully functioning rail system would only have capacity for 10% of its normal levels. Well we could cut commuting to 80% if people worked four longer days. then by changing peoples start and finish times we could get four different rush hours so down to 20%. This could be achieved either within companies Or varying start & finish times on a company-by-company basis. Halve the 20% because of home working and we arrive at 10%. Bit simplistic but I think, in the long run, we have to modify the way live and work anyway.

The elderly and otherwise vulnerable is a difficult one. Care home staff would still be mixing in the big bad world unless they 'live in' which assumes the staff have no other life.

I should say I am not suffering from lock-down as I am still at work. Nature of work has changed to be dominated by cleaning and we have extra temps in to help with that. My partner is a chef in a private hospital and now gets a lift from me in the morning but uses the bus to get back home. So my biggest risk is her bus use. But in the long run I realise neither of us will have jobs if the economy implodes !.
Is the 2 meter rule a 'necessary' culprit ? I was reading that on the Paris metro, every other seat was marked out of use and floor markings had been laid out to show people where they can safely stand. It doesn't sound as though they are employing a 2m rule.
 
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Huntergreed

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Is the 2 meter rule a 'necessary' culprit ? I was reading that on the Paris metro, every other seat was marked out of use and floor markings had been laid out to show people where they can safely stand. It doesn't sound as though they are employing a 2m rule.
When we try to open the economy again, the 2m rule is going to be a tough one. The government seem to have chose it as they didn't expect the public to be able to visualise the WHO recommended 1m which works just as well. It could be argued that this has been overly successful, and I would say the 2m needs to be reduced to 1m to allow the reopening of the economy and the use of public transport much, much easier to manage.
 

yorkie

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I would say the 2m needs to be reduced to 1m to allow the reopening of the economy and the use of public transport much, much easier to manage.
I completely agree; this has also cropped up in many other threads too.

If you're in an office environment then absolutely 2m from colleagues (in fact even more than that, ideally) is absolutely the right thing to do.

But the rest of the time, 1m is a more sensible compromise.
 
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yorksrob

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When we try to open the economy again, the 2m rule is going to be a tough one. The government seem to have chose it as they didn't expect the public to be able to visualise the WHO recommended 1m which works just as well. It could be argued that this has been overly successful, and I would say the 2m needs to be reduced to 1m to allow the reopening of the economy and the use of public transport much, much easier to manage.
Indeed. I'm increasingly concerned that we're going to be massively disadvantaged in terms of getting moving again if we continue to remain out on a limb in terms 2m for reasons of political expediency. I'm also concerned at the increasingly strident messaging employed by the metropolitan mayors which seems to be shutting down any possibility of people who aren't key workers going about their business.
 

Huntergreed

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For the last few months, the official guidance from the UK Government has been

You must stay at least 2 metres apart from all other individuals, unless you live in the same household
The WHO on the other hand have claimed that 1m is sufficient, and it is now widely accepted that the government opted for 2m as they felt that 1m was difficult to visualise and that by doubling the distance, it is much more likely that people will stay apart.

Is now the time when we should reconsider our guidance and reduce the advised distance down to 1m or is it better as a society if we stick with the current guidance at the risk of making it considerably more difficult to reopen the economy and manage public transport? What is the most likely course that the government will follow and what are the social and economic impacts of this decision?
 

Huntergreed

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The problem now is shops have already set up for 2m distancing and from what I've heard, planning across various other industries is also based around 2 metres. If there is a change, which in my opinion there really needs to be, it needs to happen sooner rather than later.
 

yorksrob

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Perhaps instead of using the word 'relax', we should phrase it as 'harmonizing with WHO recommendations and established practice elsewhere'
 

carlberry

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For the last few months, the official guidance from the UK Government has been



The WHO on the other hand have claimed that 1m is sufficient, and it is now widely accepted that the government opted for 2m as they felt that 1m was difficult to visualise and that by doubling the distance, it is much more likely that people will stay apart.

Is now the time when we should reconsider our guidance and reduce the advised distance down to 1m or is it better as a society if we stick with the current guidance at the risk of making it considerably more difficult to reopen the economy and manage public transport? What is the most likely course that the government will follow and what are the social and economic impacts of this decision?
Having ratcheted all the paranoia up it's very hard for the government to start reducing it and would take ages for the message to start getting across. It might be an easier sell if combined with masks (despite the lack of evidence that they actually make a major difference) and that's been quoted quite often in connection with public transport, or the government could go into full Brexit mode and say that it's revised the advice to be in good old British feet instead of meters and make it 4 feet.
At the end of the day you also have the problem that if you ask the question is 1m safe the actual answer is based on the spreed of the virus droplets so whilst 1m and 2m are about the same danger (i.e. fairly small) 2m will always be safer than 1m, even if the difference is very small. And 3m will be even safer!
 

muz379

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At least if the guidance is kept at 2m people underestimating would have to more than half underestimate to contravene the WHO guidance.


The problem now is shops have already set up for 2m distancing and from what I've heard, planning across various other industries is also based around 2 metres. If there is a change, which in my opinion there really needs to be, it needs to happen sooner rather than later.
Not really sure it makes all that much difference if people queued outside a supermarket are 1m or 2m apart . It makes the queue longer yeah , but in most places that's not caused any issues .

A point I think worth considering is that the WHO guidance is a minimum , in some situations you could without inconvenience far exceed this minimum offices , queues to get into places and other workplaces are a prime example .
 

yorksrob

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At least if the guidance is kept at 2m people underestimating would have to more than half underestimate to contravene the WHO guidance.



Not really sure it makes all that much difference if people queued outside a supermarket are 1m or 2m apart . It makes the queue longer yeah , but in most places that's not caused any issues .

A point I think worth considering is that the WHO guidance is a minimum , in some situations you could without inconvenience far exceed this minimum offices , queues to get into places and other workplaces are a prime example .
Conversely, in an environment where you can mark seats out of use and place markings on the floor, it is less difficult to mis-judge the distance.
 

muz379

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Conversely, in an environment where you can mark seats out of use and place markings on the floor, it is less difficult to mis-judge the distance.
Indeed , and on public transport I can see this being something could be used effectively

But I dont see what difference or inconvenience is caused by floor markings at 1m or 2m outside the supermarket , for me in that instance there is nothing to be gained by just meeting the minimum standard . Ive seen no reports of any issues being caused by queues to get into supermarkets .
 

yorksrob

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Indeed , and on public transport I can see this being something could be used effectively

But I dont see what difference or inconvenience is caused by floor markings at 1m or 2m outside the supermarket , for me in that instance there is nothing to be gained by just meeting the minimum standard . Ive seen no reports of any issues being caused by queues to get into supermarkets .
Indeed. I suppose it's just the mixed messaging for people on whether it's two meters or one, but where the markings are doesn't in itself make a difference:

The BBC article about the Paris metro that prompted my thought is below. Interestingly, it says that the floor markings are supposedly two metres apart, but it's hard to see how every other seat will be !:


BBC News said:
France is back to work today after weeks of confinement, and I was interested to see if it really is possible to be socially distant on a busy Paris metro at rush hour.
I left my flat in the east of Paris at 7.30 this morning, complete with a mask and a form from my employer stating I needed to travel at rush hour for work.
On metro line 11, at Goncourt in the east of the city, there were five other people on the platform, all wearing the same light blue tissue mask.
On the trains, stickers are placed on every other seat, telling people not to sit there to protect everyone’s health. Stickers are also on the floor as a guide for where people should stand to be two metres apart.
In the busier station of Châtelet, in the centre of Paris, guards are standing along the platform to monitor the number of people.
At 8.15 there was still hardly anyone on the platform. French media are showing crammed trains arriving from the suburbs, but here in central Paris on day one of lifting the lockdown, very few people seem to be using the metro to get to work.
 

edwin_m

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On trains even 1m separation if taken strictly only allows the use of the window seat in a bank of 3 on alternate rows. Every seat in a 2+2 layout is within 1m of the aisle. So we probably need to forget about separation on public transport, get hold of some suitable masks and run a public information campaign on which ones to use and how.
 

BJames

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On trains even 1m separation if taken strictly only allows the use of the window seat in a bank of 3 on alternate rows. Every seat in a 2+2 layout is within 1m of the aisle. So we probably need to forget about separation on public transport, get hold of some suitable masks and run a public information campaign on which ones to use and how.
Absolutely. All this about having capacity around 10-15% of usual - all very well saying that but in practice? Not so sure. I saw a few valid points on This Morning, where Janet Street Porter rather directly raised the point of how on earth everyone is supposed to cycle to work, just because Boris rather likes bikes... I know very few people who are willing to turn up to the office hot and sweaty having ridden a considerable distance to work. This is fine for getting people who only travel a few stops off but I'm yet to be convinced that any form of investment has enough capability to move even a large minority of people off of public transport once everyone's expected to go back to work.
 

Bletchleyite

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On trains even 1m separation if taken strictly only allows the use of the window seat in a bank of 3 on alternate rows. Every seat in a 2+2 layout is within 1m of the aisle. So we probably need to forget about separation on public transport, get hold of some suitable masks and run a public information campaign on which ones to use and how.
I would be inclined to agree. Masks are the only viable answer to public transport. If they don't work, we might as well shut it down for now and start thinking about other options, such as adapting taxis to carry more than one passenger as a shared transport mode by putting up screens between passengers, for one example, for the time being.
 

yorksrob

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I would be inclined to agree. Masks are the only viable answer to public transport. If they don't work, we might as well shut it down for now and start thinking about other options, such as adapting taxis to carry more than one passenger as a shared transport mode by putting up screens between passengers, for one example, for the time being.
If you can put up screens between passengers in a taxi, you could probably do some on a train.
 

Domh245

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how on earth everyone is supposed to cycle to work
They aren't. First preference is work from home, where that isn't possible and you have to be at your workplace then either drive, walk, or cycle in - avoid using public transport if you reasonably can, only then do you consider using public transport if it's absolutely necessary. This will be the case until we reach 'threat level 1' and life as it was in February can resume.
 

Bantamzen

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Easier to keep people separate in a taxi, though, because there would be a door to each seat on opposite sides of the vehicle.
Good luck sourcing all those taxis once passenger numbers start to rise. In fact up here getting a taxi for a ride home from the supermarket can take a very long time at the moment, let alone if everyone was shipped into taxis. And then there is the cost, who exactly is going to front that?
 

Yew

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I feel that we should move to 1m, particularly as in a lot of situations it corresponds well to normal personal space. Though if I was meeting a particularly vulnerable person, I'd probably stick to 2m.

I could see an argument for recommending that work stations should be roughly 2m apart. Lots of office desks are 1.8m long, so it wouldn't take a whole lot of shuffling.
 

Bantamzen

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I feel that we should move to 1m, particularly as in a lot of situations it corresponds well to normal personal space. Though if I was meeting a particularly vulnerable person, I'd probably stick to 2m.

I could see an argument for recommending that work stations should be roughly 2m apart. Lots of office desks are 1.8m long, so it wouldn't take a whole lot of shuffling.
It has been rumoured on here that the 2 metre ruled was applied because people might underestimate 1 metre. But all this further begs a question, is there some barrier at 2 metres that massively reduces the risk over 1.8 metres as per your example? The longer we stick to 2 metres, the harder it will be to dial back, and the more expensive the solutions will become. Start reducing it now to get people starting to behave something akin to normal again instead of launching themselves into walls or tearing across main roads whenever someone else comes into sight.
 

Peter Mugridge

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I feel that we should move to 1m, particularly as in a lot of situations it corresponds well to normal personal space. Though if I was meeting a particularly vulnerable person, I'd probably stick to 2m.

I could see an argument for recommending that work stations should be roughly 2m apart. Lots of office desks are 1.8m long, so it wouldn't take a whole lot of shuffling.
1m would avoid the need to reshuffle offices as well:

Yes, the desks are just under 2m wide but in many places they will be arranged in facing banks, so 2m would instantly put half the desks out of commission, but 1m wouldn't do that. People might say "but you're breathing on each other like that" but in most cases you probably aren't as the computer monitors will be at about head height and will be directly in front of you.
 

Bletchleyite

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1m would avoid the need to reshuffle offices as well:

Yes, the desks are just under 2m wide but in many places they will be arranged in facing banks, so 2m would instantly put half the desks out of commission, but 1m wouldn't do that. People might say "but you're breathing on each other like that" but in most cases you probably aren't as the computer monitors will be at about head height and will be directly in front of you.
Clear partitions can be installed to prevent that being an issue.
 

Peter Mugridge

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Most desk banks already have a partition which is generally, while not over head height, above mouth height. Would not that suffice for most staff, apart from those who are particularly tall?
 

Yew

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Yes, the desks are just under 2m wide but in many places they will be arranged in facing banks, so 2m would instantly put half the desks out of commission
I'm not so sure, between, a typical desk is 90cm deep, which if you've got two back to back, gives you 180cm. Coupled with proper seating positions, a one or two monitors, and potentially also a partition, and there's lot of mitigation before we even change anything.
 

Peter Mugridge

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I'm not so sure, between, a typical desk is 90cm deep, which if you've got two back to back, gives you 180cm. Coupled with proper seating positions, a one or two monitors, and potentially also a partition, and there's lot of mitigation before we even change anything.
Yes, but I was talking about if the Government adopted the WHO standard of 1m...

Yes, the desks are just under 2m wide but in many places they will be arranged in facing banks, so 2m would instantly put half the desks out of commission, but 1m wouldn't do that.
 

DannyMich2018

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When I go to the supermarket,whichever one I need to go to I always try and keep well away from colleagues and customers, sadly I've seen customers get close to me even if I try and keep away, I've seen some pass by particularly in narrow aisles/sections, also colleagues don't always appear to socially distance, I am not sure but could face coverings be mandatory in supermarkets and other (inside) shops? Of course the Government doesn't want to take these off the NHS but I think they should be at least advised to be worn in these places.
 

CaptainHaddock

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When I go to the supermarket,whichever one I need to go to I always try and keep well away from colleagues and customers, sadly I've seen customers get close to me even if I try and keep away, I've seen some pass by particularly in narrow aisles/sections, also colleagues don't always appear to socially distance, I am not sure but could face coverings be mandatory in supermarkets and other (inside) shops? Of course the Government doesn't want to take these off the NHS but I think they should be at least advised to be worn in these places.
Nothing wrong with that, it barely takes a second to get past someone in a supermarket aisle so unless you cough as you go past there's virtually zero risk of spreading infection. If you had to stop every time the person in front of you decided to stop, dither and stare at the shelves for 5 minutes you'd be in the supermarket for ages, and of course the longer you're in there, the greater the risk!
 
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johnnychips

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When I go to the supermarket,whichever one I need to go to I always try and keep well away from colleagues and customers, sadly I've seen customers get close to me even if I try and keep away, I've seen some pass by particularly in narrow aisles/sections, also colleagues don't always appear to socially distance, I am not sure but could face coverings be mandatory in supermarkets and other (inside) shops? Of course the Government doesn't want to take these off the NHS but I think they should be at least advised to be worn in these places.
I think it would be very low risk unless somebody coughed or sneezed on you, otherwise supermarket workers would be off in droves. I do make sure I wash my hands after I’ve been, or indeed use the spray provided in some supermarkets on the way out.

edit: snap!
 

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