Wanting to be close to other people and do things together is our natural inclination as human beings. Generally, we are accustomed to being able to choose many different ways to interact. We play in playgrounds, play sports, sit in classrooms, visit each other’s homes, sit in a pizza shop, go to the movies, and many other activities, all of which bring us physically close to each other–usually within 2 or 3 feet, sometimes only inches. When we are together, depending on how close we are and what we are doing, e.g., breathing, laughing, singing, yelling, we can breathe in each other’s “air.” This air contains droplets, which can be visible, and aerosol particles which are invisible to the naked eye.
In enclosed spaces with NO air circulation, droplets being larger and heavier, when breathing, typically drop down within about 3 feet; when coughing can travel an average of 6-8 feet; and when sneezing up to 25 feet or more. If there is air circulation, regardless of the source (e.g., movement of beings, door movement, natural or artificial venting, etc.), the droplets can remain airborne longer and travel farther. The tinier aerosol particles can linger in the air for minutes, and sometimes hours. In open spaces, outdoors, there is more likelihood of dispersal, but proximity and air current still determine the likelihood of droplets and aerosol travel and time being airborne.
When taking these facts into consideration, what has become the accepted “safe” guideline for distance between people to inhibit the spread of disease is at least 6 feet (Disclaimer). This is relative to the stillness of the air, especially indoors. The most physically distant way to keep away from people outside your household is by staying in or at your own home. But should you need or choose to go beyond your own living space, keeping physically distant is one of the three basic, key things to do to inhibit the spread of infectious diseases. Along with physical distance, wearing face coverings is critically important to dramatically reduce airborne particles, along with the extra measure of frequently washing your hands to avoid spreading germs from surfaces to someone’s nose or mouth, including your own.
So stay physically distant to help everyone stay safe 👍😁