Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, social distancing has been the key phrase and practice encouraged to flatten the curve and help slow down the spread of the virus.
The recommended physical space between people ranges from 1-2m depending on which country you live in, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). South Africans are compelled to adhere to a 1-m space between each other while out in public.
But is social distancing really possible while out in public?
Month-end is one of the busiest times in malls, Business Tech reports. It’s also a time when South Africans queue in their numbers to get their social grants.
The department of social development came up with the idea of placing shopping trolleys between people to enforce social distancing while standing in a queue.
While trolleys range in size this simple method ensures there’s a clear distance between shoppers and helps to promote social distancing.
Trolley power while shopping
Besides being used as an obstacle in a queue, trolleys can also be used to create social distancing while shopping for essentials.
The average shopping aisle width in South Africa is about 2-3m depending on the size of the grocery store. This ensures a safe and comfortable distance between you and other shoppers while manoeuvring through the aisles.
Since the lockdown, the number of shoppers allowed in a store has been reduced to 50. Furthermore, people are urged to shop alone, instead of with a partner or in a group. With these regulations put in place, it has become easier to achieve social distancing.
Trolley power at the counter
Most shops and banks have placed special markings on their floors to enforce social distancing while waiting in the queue. But these markings are only placed close to the tills or ATMs, while sometimes queues can stretch much further.
Having a trolley ensures people keep a safe distance while moving along the queue. It’s also an effective space enhancer while paying at the counter to ensure a safe space between you and the cashiers or tellers.
Trolley power in the elevator
While shoppers usually dread the thought of being in a lift with a trolley, this nifty carrier can make the perfect barrier to avoid close contact with others.
Some countries have installed sanitising dispensers outside or inside lifts to ensure good hygiene before and after pressing the lift buttons, The Borneo Post reports. It’s also recommended that people using the lift shouldn’t exceed four at a time.
A trolley can come in handy to ensure physical distance is achieved with people standing in all four corners of the lift.
Other ways to create social distancing while out in public
- Delay shopping. With the shopping hours reduced during the lockdown, most shoppers have resorted to doing their shopping as early in the mornings as possible. But delaying shopping when there’s less traffic is a far safer option, Forbes reports.
- Create space. Banks and pharmacies are still open during the lockdown. So, when paying them a visit, the Washington Post suggests you try to have at least three seats vacant between you and the next seated person. This measure can also be used when in other public seating areas.
- Be steps ahead. When using the escalator or stairs, leave at least three steps between someone in front of you or behind you. This creates a safe following distance and helps maintain social distancing even after you get off the escalator or leave the stairway.
- Say no to groups. Avoid or move away from areas where a group forms. It could be in a shopping aisle, at a parking pay point or just while standing. Rather look for an alternative area or delay the trip there until the number has lessened.
- Pause and pace. In most countries people are urged to walk 1,8m apart. However, this can be challenging – especially in narrow routes or busy areas – but keeping some distance at all times is imperative. Slow down and be aware of the distance around you, according to the LA Times.
While social distancing has been proven to decrease the number of virus transmissions and its impact on the healthcare system, staying indoors is still the best action to curb the coronavirus.