As coronavirus (COVID-19) spread throughout the world, the world fought back. We're still finding out about COVID-19, but we know a lot. One thing we've learned is that social distancing is an important way to help prevent the virus from spreading.

What Is Social Distancing?

Most of us call it "social distancing," but it can help to think of it as "physical distancing" instead. Social distancing puts space between people. By keeping their distance from others, people infected with the virus are less likely to spread it.

The virus mainly spreads when someone breathes, talks, coughs, or sneezes, which sends tiny droplets into the air. People standing nearby can get these droplets in their eyes, nose, or mouth, or they can breathe them in.

When there's at least 6 feet between people, these droplets are more likely to fall onto the ground rather than on other people. Less often, tinier droplets can linger in the air for minutes to hours. These are called aerosols.

Because infected people may not have symptoms, it is best to keep a safe distance whenever you're around people you don't live with.

How Do We Keep a Safe Distance in Public?

Many states have reopened businesses and restarted recreational activities. So you might wonder how to keep your distance from others when you leave your home. Here are some tips for the whole family:

  • Whether outdoors or indoors, stay at least 6 feet away from other people and wear a mask.
  • Sit or stand at least 6 feet away from others while taking public transportation.
  • Use drive-thru or curbside pick-up when possible for food orders and shopping. Shopping online from home is another way to keep your distance from others.
  • Choose outdoor venues for dining or activities whenever possible, as that gives people more space to spread out.
  • Follow local guidelines on things like how many people can gather in groups and what activities are OK. They may differ from place to place. Also check with your doctor, local health department, or CDC for the most updated information.

How Can We Still Be Social?

It can feel like ordinary life has changed in countless ways. Many large group events and sports activities were called off, and activities that weren't canceled or have restarted have strict safety measures in place. These temporary but necessary steps help communities with their social distancing.

But we don't have to feel isolated or lonely. There are fun ways to stay socially connected while keeping a safe distance from each other. Zoom dinners with faraway loved ones, remote book clubs, and drive-by birthday parties are some ways to be together while apart during the pandemic.

Help your kids stay connected with friends and extended family members through video visits or playdates. If your kids meet friends in person, help them plan small outdoor get-togethers where they can keep a safe distance from each other, such as doing sidewalk chalk art or riding bikes.

You also can plan family activities. Take a walk or a hike to get out and get active without physical contact. Try to find quiet streets or less well-known paths for these outings. It's best not to go to places where lots of people gather, especially those with things that lots of kids use, like jungle gyms.

More and more people are getting vaccinated against COVID-19. Eventually, we can socialize as we used to. But for now, it is safest to keep social distancing when out in public.

Back to Articles

Related Articles

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The coronavirus (COVID-19) is making people sick with flu-like symptoms. Read this article to learn how to protect your family, and to know when to call your doctor.

Read More

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Home Care & Precautions

Anyone who is sick — even if they don't know for sure they have coronavirus (COVID-19) — should stay home unless they need medical care. This helps prevent the illness from spreading to others.

Read More

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: What to Do if Your Child Is Sick

There's still much to learn about COVID-19. Still, parents wonder what to do if their child gets sick during the pandemic. Here's what doctors say to do if your child has coronavirus symptoms.

Read More

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Your Questions Answered

We're learning more about coronavirus (COVID-19) every day. Here are answers to some questions you may have about symptoms, care, and protecting your family.

Read More

Coronavirus (COVID-19): How to Talk to Your Child

Your kids are hearing about coronavirus (COVID-19). To make sure they get reliable information, here's how to talk about it.

Read More

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Being Ready to Quarantine

People who have a coronavirus (COVID-19) infection or are around someone who has it should stay home to prevent spreading the virus. Here's how to prepare to quarantine or isolate at home.

Read More

Understanding Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Looking for information about coronavirus (COVID-19)? Our articles and videos explain what the virus is, ways to prevent it from spreading, what it means for school and learning, and much more.

Read More

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Information for Teachers

Everyone has questions about coronavirus (COVID-19), including how it affects schools, students, and teachers. Here are answers to some common questions.

Read More

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Kids and Masks

Wearing masks helps to slow the spread of COVID-19. Some toddlers and young children may feel uneasy about masks. Here's how to reassure your child.

Read More

Why Are People Wearing Face Masks?

You might think face masks are mostly for the operating room. But during the coronavirus outbreak, you might see more people wearing them. Here's why.

Read More

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and