Long term social distancing: Impact on public life & public transport?

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nedchester

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I genuinely am beginning to worry about the impact of the measures that we've taken. I really can't see how we can operate any form of functional society when social distancing restrictions are in place. It is going to be nigh on impossible to get certain industries through this crisis, including transport, tourism, hospitality etc, if we insist on enforcing social distancing for the next few years. Whilst I am aware that, initially, this was a necessary precaution required to not overwhelm the NHS during the peak of the crisis, now that we seem past that stage, it's time to consider how to get society running again and allow us to get back to a more sensible way of life than the draconian existence we are facing at present. The first logical step would be, on June 1st, easing the requirement down to 1m and stop the aggressive messaging which has over-inflated the risk that most people are perceiving. Beyond the next 2 months though, we need to look at alternatives to enforcing nationwide social distancing, as this will make the recovery of the economy and protecting our way of life much more difficult than it needs to be.

Whilst the last thing I would ever wish to impose would be discrimination on ableist grounds, we need to accept that, aside from the vulnerable and elderly, the risk this virus poses to the vast majority of the population is minimal. Of course it is necessary to ensure that we don't change in such a way that risks overwhelming the health board but, in my opinion, we need to advise the vulnerable and elderly that they are indeed at risk of serious illness and that the safest thing for them to do would be to socially distance themselves from others. Aside from advising this group of the risks they face if they choose to ignore this advice, I see it as almost inevitable that social distancing can't last into the long term for the rest of society, as the difficulties faced with reopening the economy and protecting our way of life would, how I see it, far outweigh the risks from the virus spreading amongst the healthy, younger portion of the population who are facing increasing worries over their futures, careers and mental health due to the current approach to the crisis.
Spot on. We as a society cannot go on forever like this for not only economic reasons but social reasons.

If the most vulnerable are shielded (and yes there are a number of them which are in work) then it should reduce the effect of any second peak in terms of NHS load.

I reckon that by the summer July the authorities can try and enforce social distancing (remember it's not in law) but people will not be willing to do it. They want to live normally. You can call that selfish but I am talking about human nature here. This is not just on trains but in many other settings.
 
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yorksrob

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I still say we'll end up doing whatever works elsewhere in Europe.

Spoiler alert: It won't be staying 2m apart from everyone else forever more. Not on public transport or anywhere else.
 

yorkie

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I really don't want to be seen as contrarian because it's very clear what the opinion of the forum is in general, but as a couple of people have pointed out 'just the elderly and vulnerable' is a lot more people than you might think, and quite a lot of them will be teachers/transport/sanitation staff etc etc and these industries would struggle to cope with the drop in staff numbers without stretching those still working pretty thin. Coupled with the fact that there's still so much to learn about the virus and the way it interacts with people, for instance causing otherwise perfectly young people to suffer strokes. I don't know what the solution is but I'm not convinced the 'advanced shielding' route is the right one
I see no other remotely viable solution; we cannot go on like this for much longer.
 

BJames

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I still say we'll end up doing whatever works elsewhere in Europe.

Spoiler alert: It won't be staying 2m apart from everyone else forever more. Not on public transport or anywhere else.
Yes I agree, the only slight advantage to being behind is that (hopefully) the government can take on the best of the tactics employed elsewhere and get us out of this a lot more effectively.
 

philosopher

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It seems pretty clear the government now wants to use a track, trace, isolate system to control Covid-19. The problem with this is that manual tracing only really works for situations where you know who you were in close contact with, such as meeting friends in a pub. On public transport you usually have no idea who you were sitting next to. This could be why the government is so insistent on the need for social distancing on public transport.

A work around could be to relax or perhaps even eliminate the social distancing requirements on public transport for passengers who have downloaded the contact tracing app as it would allow for effective contact tracing in this situation. Those passengers with the app would be allowed to sit in carriages with no or less social distancing, which in effect would allow somewhat normal use of public transport for them.
 

underbank

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People should be free not to social distance in places such as bars, clubs, restaurants, sports arenas, festivals etc., where they have a CHOICE whether to go to those places or not. If you CHOOSE to go there, then you accept any risks of being close to people. Same would apply to non essential shops such as small clothes shops etc.

However, other people should also be safe to go to other places, such as supermarkets (essentials), footpaths (exercise), etc, without the risk of someone getting too close. Social distancing needs to remain in those places.

People need the choice. Being locked behind closed doors for months because it isn't safe for the most vulnerable to go out due to selfish idiots who can't respect personal space is not acceptable. The vulnerable can accept not going to Anfield every other Saturday, but can't accept not being able to go shopping or walking around the block.

We need common sense and respect. Common sense on the part of the vulnerable not to put themselves at unnecessary risk by going to crowded places, but respect from everyone else to allow personal space for those who need it.
 

carlberry

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People should be free not to social distance in places such as bars, clubs, restaurants, sports arenas, festivals etc., where they have a CHOICE whether to go to those places or not. If you CHOOSE to go there, then you accept any risks of being close to people. Same would apply to non essential shops such as small clothes shops etc.

However, other people should also be safe to go to other places, such as supermarkets (essentials), footpaths (exercise), etc, without the risk of someone getting too close. Social distancing needs to remain in those places.

People need the choice. Being locked behind closed doors for months because it isn't safe for the most vulnerable to go out due to selfish idiots who can't respect personal space is not acceptable. The vulnerable can accept not going to Anfield every other Saturday, but can't accept not being able to go shopping or walking around the block.

We need common sense and respect. Common sense on the part of the vulnerable not to put themselves at unnecessary risk by going to crowded places, but respect from everyone else to allow personal space for those who need it.
This only works if those people who want that choice also choose not to attend hospital if they become ill, even the small percentage of the general population that can become seriously ill will overwhelm the health service.
 

yorksrob

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Yes I agree, the only slight advantage to being behind is that (hopefully) the government can take on the best of the tactics employed elsewhere and get us out of this a lot more effectively.
Indeed. I think that ultimately the different approaches will begin to merge as what works becomes apparent.

It seems pretty clear the government now wants to use a track, trace, isolate system to control Covid-19. The problem with this is that manual tracing only really works for situations where you know who you were in close contact with, such as meeting friends in a pub. On public transport you usually have no idea who you were sitting next to. This could be why the government is so insistent on the need for social distancing on public transport.

A work around could be to relax or perhaps even eliminate the social distancing requirements on public transport for passengers who have downloaded the contact tracing app as it would allow for effective contact tracing in this situation. Those passengers with the app would be allowed to sit in carriages with no or less social distancing, which in effect would allow somewhat normal use of public transport for them.
That may be part of the answer for public transport. I think generally face coverings in those sorts of settings will be found to be far more use than social distancing in such settings (see face mask thread).

Interestingly, I see that Quantas is looking to start flying without any social distancing at all:


BBC News said:
Qantas, Australia's national carrier, says when it resumes normal operation next month it will run flights with no physical distancing. It will offer masks and hand sanitiser to passengers but masks won't be mandatory.

This model- understandably - has made many nervous and some are questioning whether the airline is prioritising costs over health risks. Qantas says were it to enact personal space guidelines, planes would only have 22 passengers and airfares would be up to 10 times higher.

In defending the plan, chief executive Alan Joyce also said Qantas had run several full repatriation flights for the government with no issues. There were also few confirmed cases globally of the virus being contracted on a plane, he said.

He claimed pressurised plane cabins were safer environments than other transport. This is because passengers sit the same way, high seats act as barriers and the filtered "air flow is top to bottom".

However, several health experts in Australia have said they're still cautious of air travel, and would not sit close to a stranger in a contained space
Part of the justification is that passengers sit the same way with high seats acting as a barrier - something common to a lot of trains (although I'm not sure train air conditioning is similar enough).

It's noticeable that many experts are sceptical of this approach - I personally would be wary of sitting directly next to a stranger, and non-compulsory facemasks aren't much use.

However, I do think that the answer will be somewhere between this and the five people per carriage approach we have on our railways at the moment.
 

CaptainHaddock

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This only works if those people who want that choice also choose not to attend hospital if they become ill, even the small percentage of the general population that can become seriously ill will overwhelm the health service.
Given that new COVID-19 infections are falling rapidly and the Nightingale hospitals have been stood down, I don't think there's much chance of the NHS being overwhelmed now. or in the near future.

I agree entirely with Underbank and have made similar suggestions myself. There are many small bars and micropubs who simply will not survive if any form of social distancing remains in place for any time longer than the next few weeks.
 

MDB1images

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Today I have worked a train into a big city arriving at 0740. It is, in normal times, 3 coaches long and absolutely rammed to bursting like a sardine tin. Today - 9 passengers.

Off Peak trains I have worked this week have been quieter than during the lockdown proper and have carried so few people on any journey that you could count them all on the fingers of one hand. Some have carried precisely Zero passengers.
Just shows how hard it is to predict.
Last two days I've worked a train on which all the Social distancing seats got took up in the middle of the afternoon on a Anglo Scot.
The ones more 'rush hour' based was a bit quieter (far quieter than usual)but far more travelling than in the last 6 weeks(that's not hard to beat though!).

Had to travel 'pass' on a Northern last night around 21:00 and it was very quiet but it was a 6 car EMU.
 

nedchester

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Just shows how hard it is to predict.
Last two days I've worked a train on which all the Social distancing seats got took up in the middle of the afternoon on a Anglo Scot.
The ones more 'rush hour' based was a bit quieter (far quieter than usual)but far more travelling than in the last 6 weeks(that's not hard to beat though!).

Had to travel 'pass' on a Northern last night around 21:00 and it was very quiet but it was a 6 car EMU.
But what can you do when more than the number of 'social distancing' seats are taken up? Nothing I assume?
 

takno

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This only works if those people who want that choice also choose not to attend hospital if they become ill, even the small percentage of the general population that can become seriously ill will overwhelm the health service.
The numbers originally quoted for overwhelming the health service didn't pan out at all in the end. Capacity was (and remains) significantly increased, and treatment short of intensive care has greatly reduced the number of people getting to that stage. Add to that a better understanding of when hospital treatment is actually required, and actually the capacity risk is greatly reduced.

Given the huge proportion of nursing homes and vulnerable who have been exposed already in spite of lockdown, it's highly likely that a peak in infections wouldn't lead to anything like as large a peak in serious illnesses anyway. Nobody who has had a significant first peak has come even close to seeing a second peak yet
 

BC

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People should be free not to social distance in places such as bars, clubs, restaurants, sports arenas, festivals etc., where they have a CHOICE whether to go to those places or not. If you CHOOSE to go there, then you accept any risks of being close to people. Same would apply to non essential shops such as small clothes shops etc.

However, other people should also be safe to go to other places, such as supermarkets (essentials), footpaths (exercise), etc, without the risk of someone getting too close. Social distancing needs to remain in those places.

People need the choice. Being locked behind closed doors for months because it isn't safe for the most vulnerable to go out due to selfish idiots who can't respect personal space is not acceptable. The vulnerable can accept not going to Anfield every other Saturday, but can't accept not being able to go shopping or walking around the block.

We need common sense and respect. Common sense on the part of the vulnerable not to put themselves at unnecessary risk by going to crowded places, but respect from everyone else to allow personal space for those who need it.
Sadly there is a total lack of commonsense in palce - people are apparantly already not even considering social distanceing in places like supermarkets where it is needed. If you drop it in places like resteraunts then it'll only get worse in other places. We are also back to the issue of just having people who are vulnerable shut away for an awfully long time as there seems no will to solve that issue in any way either.
 

BC

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Part of the justification is that passengers sit the same way with high seats acting as a barrier - something common to a lot of trains (although I'm not sure train air conditioning is similar enough).

It's noticeable that many experts are sceptical of this approach - I personally would be wary of sitting directly next to a stranger, and non-compulsory facemasks aren't much use.

However, I do think that the answer will be somewhere between this and the five people per carriage approach we have on our railways at the moment.
It's something like two minutes for a full air change on an aircraft - I cannot see that a train aircon will be that good. Also the air inside the aircraft cabin can be refreshed with outside air at a somewhat similar rate at a small increase in fuel consumption. I cannot see any train aircon being that good as they will just recycle and cool the existing air mostly.
 

joncombe

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I see no other remotely viable solution; we cannot go on like this for much longer.
I agree and I hope that turns out to be the case. However I think it's worth referring to the Government 5 stage "COVID Alert". At phase 4 "Social Distancing Continues". At phase 3 "Social Distancing Relaxed". At phase 2 "Minimal Social Distancing" and presumably at Phase 1 none at all.

So clearly when we move to phase 3 some social distancing will be relaxed (perhaps to 1 metre?) and at phase 2 minimal. Minimal is not the same as none of course, so I'm not sure when it will apply in that scenario.
 

yorksrob

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It's something like two minutes for a full air change on an aircraft - I cannot see that a train aircon will be that good. Also the air inside the aircraft cabin can be refreshed with outside air at a somewhat similar rate at a small increase in fuel consumption. I cannot see any train aircon being that good as they will just recycle and cool the existing air mostly.
On a 158 it certainly won't be :lol:

That aside, it depends what proportion of a difference the air conditioning makes as a part of the overall effect.
 

Peter Mugridge

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I agree and I hope that turns out to be the case. However I think it's worth referring to the Government 5 stage "COVID Alert". At phase 4 "Social Distancing Continues". At phase 3 "Social Distancing Relaxed". At phase 2 "Minimal Social Distancing" and presumably at Phase 1 none at all.

So clearly when we move to phase 3 some social distancing will be relaxed (perhaps to 1 metre?) and at phase 2 minimal. Minimal is not the same as none of course, so I'm not sure when it will apply in that scenario.
On the full version of the chart, the wording for level 2 is "no or minimal social distancing" rather than just "minimal". I posted the chart in another thread the other day; to avoid posting the same thing in multiple threads, here's a link to that post.

 

Enthusiast

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This only works if those people who want that choice also choose not to attend hospital if they become ill,
No no no no no. People choose to undertake all sorts of risky activities. Are they all to be told they must choose not to attend hospital?
Interestingly, I see that Quantas is looking to start flying without any social distancing at all:
Then Qantas have obviously reached the same conclusion that I have. Social distancing and civil aviation are mutually exclusive activities. It is not even remotely possible to accommodate both.
 

MDB1images

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But what can you do when more than the number of 'social distancing' seats are taken up? Nothing I assume?
Report it to our control and try and manage it as best as possible.
It's not happened yet though and to be honest it shouldn't happen unless people just ignore the travel advice.
 

RT4038

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We are also back to the issue of just having people who are vulnerable shut away for an awfully long time as there seems no will to solve that issue in any way either.
Writing as someone in the vulnerable category, I would say that there is an awful lot of will (and money) going into solving the issue by researching and developing a vaccine and drugs. Any other solution, such as locking away and distancing for the rest of the population for a long time, is just impracticable. I have had to live with, and accept, the causes of my vulnerability for the last 15 years or so, and that I cannot live life as if I was not so affected. Whilst taking care and staying alert, I will have to take some risk going forward in order to have as an enjoyable life as possible.
 

MDB1images

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On the full version of the chart, the wording for level 2 is "no or minimal social distancing" rather than just "minimal". I posted the chart in another thread the other day; to avoid posting the same thing in multiple threads, here's a link to that post.

Which makes sense, the Social distancing signage is all of a temporary nature(stickers, plastic cards, tape, temporary barriers etc).
You'd expect that if things carry on in a positive downward trend we'd be able to get down a level to open things up more.
 

geoffk

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Then it will take much, much longer for the essential travel only advise and expectation to be withdrawn if people decide to use it for leisure travel. The ramp up this week is already on a shoestring of being withdrawn if numbers rise far.
Trains I'm seeing are virtually empty. That's on the Calder Valley yesterday and today the Aire Valley (I was in my car). The car park at Keighley station was empty (just five cars in the street outside which may or may not have been rail users), and four cars parked yesterday at Littleborough. I understand probably different in London.
 

Jayden99

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Trains I'm seeing are virtually empty. That's on the Calder Valley yesterday and today the Aire Valley (I was in my car). The car park at Keighley station was empty (just five cars in the street outside which may or may not have been rail users), and four cars parked yesterday at Littleborough. I understand probably different in London.
Honestly even in London I've not noticed much difference. I take a mixture of the Metropolitan Line and Chiltern Railways trains and even in the peak there's been plenty of scope to keep distance. The deep level lines might be a different story mind you
 

underbank

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The numbers originally quoted for overwhelming the health service didn't pan out at all in the end. Capacity was (and remains) significantly increased
Capacity was increased at the cost of the NHS basically abandoning everything else and diverting all resources to Covid. That's not sustainable long term and will probably turn out to have been a massive mistake when figures for non Covid deaths are analysed, i.e. cancer sufferers who had their treatment cancelled! It can't happen again - for the next "wave" of Covid, the NHS will have to cope along with carrying on treating over people for other things.
 

Huntergreed

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Capacity was increased at the cost of the NHS basically abandoning everything else and diverting all resources to Covid. That's not sustainable long term and will probably turn out to have been a massive mistake when figures for non Covid deaths are analysed, i.e. cancer sufferers who had their treatment cancelled! It can't happen again - for the next "wave" of Covid, the NHS will have to cope along with carrying on treating over people for other things.
I do think they'll have realised that throughout this peak, even if these treatments went ahead there would've been sufficient capacity with most of the 'nightingales' lying virtually empty. I imagine this was done through panic and it, hopefully, won't be repeated if and when we have a second wave
 

Skymonster

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It seems pretty clear the government now wants to use a track, trace, isolate system to control Covid-19.
It is not acceptable to track individuals unless they are individually prepared to accept that they are tracked.
It is not acceptable to disadvantage those who do not wish to be tracked.
It is not acceptable to tell people they have to isolate 14 days just because some app says they happen to have sat next to someone else who might have a virus.

A work around could be to relax or perhaps even eliminate the social distancing requirements on public transport for passengers who have downloaded the contact tracing app as it would allow for effective contact tracing in this situation. Those passengers with the app would be allowed to sit in carriages with no or less social distancing, which in effect would allow somewhat normal use of public transport for them.
So in this new totalitarian world, we make possession of a smart phone a prerequisite to certain entitlements and freedoms? That really is unacceptable too.

People should be free not to social distance in places such as bars, clubs, restaurants, sports arenas, festivals etc., where they have a CHOICE whether to go to those places or not. If you CHOOSE to go there, then you accept any risks of being close to people. Same would apply to non essential shops such as small clothes shops etc.
Hurrah! At last someone gets it. There is no more risk to people getting a drink from a bar as there is standing in a supermarket queue. I just wish those in government calling the shots had the same common sense.

This only works if those people who want that choice also choose not to attend hospital if they become ill, even the small percentage of the general population that can become seriously ill will overwhelm the health service.
Don't be ridiculous - the NHS has not been overwhelmed and it won't be overwhelmed. The Nightingale Hospitals were a massive overreaction to all of the scare stories coming out of Italy.
 

carlberry

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Don't be ridiculous - the NHS has not been overwhelmed and it won't be overwhelmed. The Nightingale Hospitals were a massive overreaction to all of the scare stories coming out of Italy.
I think you need to ask some of the workers in hospitals if they feel overwhelmed. Or some of the thousands of people with operations cancelled over the last 2 1/2 months that allowed it not to be overwhelmed.

However I'm glad you've got some good news from the future that the NHS isn't going to be overwhelmed as that hasn't be relayed into the health service yet especially to those people preparing to staff the Nightingale Hospitals.

The stories coming out of Italy were real enough in certain hospitals; the Nightingale Hospitals were a massive overreaction in the same way car/house insurance is once you can look back after the event.
 

Bletchleyite

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I think you need to ask some of the workers in hospitals if they feel overwhelmed. Or some of the thousands of people with operations cancelled over the last 2 1/2 months that allowed it not to be overwhelmed.
FWIW it's not just the NHS canning them - many minor operations requiring a general will not be admitted, which means you need someone to look after you for 24 hours afterwards. I therefore can't legally have an operation I am due to have even if capacity is made available for it, because I can't legally have a friend or family in my home to do this.
 

Islineclear3_1

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I think you need to ask some of the workers in hospitals if they feel overwhelmed. Or some of the thousands of people with operations cancelled over the last 2 1/2 months that allowed it not to be overwhelmed.
My local hospital has been virtually deserted as the elderly and vulnerable stay at home and people are fearful of coming to A & E or Urgent Care. All Outpatient appointments have been cancelled since the lockdown and we're only seeing mega-urgent patients with non-Covid-19 related problems. Usually, my department is heaving...

There is going to be a massive surge in people returning to hospital as their outpatient appointments and elective operations resume later in the year. And anyone asking their GP to refer them to a specialist is going to be in for a long wait once/if the backlog is cleared. Then we'll see how overwhelmed the NHS becomes...
 

PG

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Leeds it is.

Imagine if you followed the rules and wanted to change from 16 to 13? Up from 16 to the west end bridge. All the way along to the main entrance (because you not allowed down to 13 from that bridge, only up), down the barrier line, round the end of the fencing past all the shouty yellow vest people, then all along platform 8 to the east end footbridge, up on the bridge, down on to platform 12 not forgetting those steps point east then turn around and double back on yourself then walk the full length of the station down platform 12, then you reach platform 13 underneath the west end bridge you were on about 10 minutes before.

They have even made the lifts one way by blanking off some of the call lift buttons!
Seeing as how the thread title refers to the impact on public transport then given the tortuous station wayfinding now in operation (e.g. at Leeds in your post) I would think longer journey times is one impact.

Leeds is listed as a minimum interchange time of 10 minutes. A search ,as an example, tomorrow for journeys Shipley - Sheffield gives several with connection times of 10 - 13 minutes which seems optimistic given the current wayfinding implementation.

I'm sure they'll be other examples of 'tight' connections at other locations with revised passenger flows in operation.

So I guess my question is :​
Will journey planners be updated to reflect different minimum interchange times?​
 
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