Coronavirus: how much of Covid-19’s social distancing is here to stay?
The devastating coronavirus pandemic has forced the world into an unprecedented social experiment: a “new normal” of social distancing.
In an effort to contain the spread of Covid-19, the pneumonia-like disease caused by the virus, governments have first encouraged, then compelled people to practise social distancing, or keeping a physical distance between individuals. People have been told to stay and work at home whenever possible, avoid crowded areas and suspend social gatherings – with varying success.
Behavioural scientists say social distancing is challenging for humans, as innately social creatures, and has come with different costs for the world’s poor, those providing frontline and essential services and people vulnerable to isolation or to domestic violence.
It has forced students into virtual classrooms, customers to stand metres apart at grocery stores, employees to balance child care with working from home, social gatherings – including birthdays, church services, dates and even funerals – to be conducted by video.