Coronavirus: Social Distance - An Overview of the Most Important Facts

Coronavirus: Social Distance - An Overview of the Most Important Facts

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This is how social contacts should be reduced

Most people don't like to be alone. The far-reaching measures announced by Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday, March 16, 2020, to contain the coronavirus affect in particular the social areas of public life. Doing nothing and keeping a distance seems to be the best way to prevent the spread - a behavior that many people in our fast-paced and highly networked society have to learn again.

Reduce contact, keep distance: This is the only way to limit the spread of the coronavirus. But what does it exactly mean? What is still okay now and what is no longer? Health professionals are educating.

If possible stay at home

Stay at home as far as possible: This is currently the most important tip that everyone should follow in the fight against the corona virus. The idea behind it: The less contact people have with each other, the less the risk of the further spread of the coronavirus Sars-CoV-2. Larger crowds in particular are therefore taboo. However, personal contacts that are too close can also become a problem.

The most important rules for social distancing

Here is an overview of the most important rules for reducing social contacts according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA).

Reduce contacts

Even without strict isolation or quarantine, there are enough ways to keep contact with others to a minimum. Those who can and are allowed to work in the home office. You should cancel appointments with friends, relatives and acquaintances, postpone large birthday or wedding celebrations if possible. And your own car and bicycle are currently better means of transportation than bus and train.

Keep a good distance

Contact with other people cannot be avoided entirely - be it for professional or private reasons. The RKI advises, however, to limit this to a few well-known people - so that infections can be tracked in case of doubt. Additional precautionary measures apply: So keep a distance of at least one, better two, and avoid all greeting rituals such as shaking hands and hugs. And of course, always apply: wash your hands consistently!

Go out countercyclically - or not at all

If you can, you don't go shopping at peak times, but only when supermarkets or pharmacies are empty. The BZgA generally advises against visits to restaurants and caf├ęs. Such places are increasingly closed anyway. The same applies to all public places with crowds, from sports or playgrounds to shopping centers.

Take care of children separately

Kindergartens and schools too, mom and dad in the home office. So the idea is obvious to look after the children together and thus leave at least some of the parents to work in peace. But the German Society for Infectious Diseases (DGI) expressly advises against this - especially when the care group meets in a constantly changing cast. If anything, the private daycare centers should consist of very few and always the same children and parents.

Support those at risk

Avoiding human contacts - this applies all the more to people who belong to the risk groups, in particular to the elderly and the chronically ill. At the same time, these are the most restricted in their freedom of movement. If you can, you should offer their help, for example for shopping and errands.

No direct contact with risk groups

It is important that helpers and risk patients have no direct contact, said Prof. John Ziebuhr, head of the Institute for Medical Virology at the University of Giessen. The best way to organize your shopping is by phone and just put the bags in front of the door. Infection in this way - i.e. via the money or the handle of a bag - is rather unlikely.

Get some fresh air

Sunlight and oxygen are still important. Ultimately, this benefits physical and also not insignificant mental health. The virologist Christian Drosten therefore advises to go further outdoors - just with caution. "It's not like you get infected while walking when you meet," he said on Friday (March 13) in his NDR podcast.

However, the same applies here and especially: distance is important. So if you want to run, it's best to do it alone - and not with your running group. And if you want to read your newspaper in the sun, it's best to look for a lonely park bench. (vb; source: dpa / tmn)

Also read: Corona crisis: what closes now and what remains open?

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Robert Koch Institute (RKI): COVID-19: Act now, plan ahead. Strategy addition to recommended infection control measures and goals (2nd update) (published: 13.03.2020),
  • Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA): Information on the novel coronavirus SARS CoV 2 (as of March 14, 2020),

Video: #COVID-19. The Math Behind Why we need Social Distancing (October 2022).