Published 24 Dec 2021
What is the definition of social distancing?
‘Social distancing’ is defined by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as the practice of "remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible." It is a term that refers to infection control measures that aim to stop or slow down the spread of a highly contagious disease.
This social distancing plan template can be used and customized by essential retail business establishments (e.g. grocery stores, pharmacies, drug stores) to create rigorous cleaning practice guidelines and promote safe shopping practices in their facilities. It can serve as a pandemic planning tool for businesses and enable retail store managers to train staff in implementing social distancing measures and use mobile devices to cross-check execution.
Further, this digital template can be used to:
- create a customizable digital checklist of social distancing guidelines to be implemented by store managers;
- take pictures of implemented measures as proof of compliance; and
- use digital signatures for social distancing plan approvals.
Further, social distancing aims to decrease or interrupt disease transmission by minimizing physical contact between potentially infected individuals and healthy individuals, or between population groups with high rates of transmission and population groups with no or a low level of transmission.
Why practice social distancing?
As the coronavirus pandemic escalates, governments across the world have been advised by the World Health Organization (WHO) to tackle the control of the disease with utmost priority. Mentioned by the CDC as a crucial strategy in curbing the spread of the disease, the practice social distancing plays a vital role in helping flatten the curve. Here are three key reasons why social distancing needs to be followed and implemented by individuals, communities, and business organizations:
Social distancing helps flatten the curve
“Flattening the curve” refers to the use of practices that contribute to the reduction of the number of people who are sick at one time, so that hospitals would have enough resources for all persons who need care. With social distancing measures, physical interactions between people are minimized; this helps significantly reduce the potential number of people getting sick and break the chain of contagion.
Social distancing helps decrease the pressure on the health care system
Epidemics can overwhelm a health care system’s capacity to deliver sufficient and appropriate services. Human and material resources (e.g. doctors, nurses, medicines, hospital beds) may not be able to meet demand, especially if the number of infected people do not slow down. If society abides by social distancing guidelines, the health care system can preserve its resources and take better care of every admitted individual.
Social distancing protects high-risk individuals
The high-risk population – those with old age and with underlying health conditions – is most vulnerable to epidemics. Through social distancing, they are separated from people who may be symptom-free, but are already virus carriers.
What are some examples of social distancing measures?
As broad-scale lockdowns are implemented to help control disease transmission, authorities have imposed social distancing measures for individuals, communities, and business entities. The most common strategic decisions to encourage social distancing are:
- Closing non-essential businesses, with work-from-home plans in place wherever possible
- Essential businesses (e.g. grocery stores, pharmacies) limiting the number of customers inside at any given time
- Restaurants and bars being open only for takeout or delivery
- Changing company practices, setting up flexible shift plans, having employees telecommute and canceling any large meetings or conferences
- Schools suspending classes, going to Web-based learning and canceling all large campus meetings and gatherings
- Cancellation/suspending of mass gatherings like worship services, sporting events, concerts, and festivals
Community leaders and employers can further refer to workplaces and businesses guidelines from the CDC and related local health agencies on how to help curb disease transmission.
Why is it crucial to plan the implementation of community-level social distancing measures?
With the responsibility in the hands of the people and their leaders, it is vital to plan the implementation of these measures so that the goals of social distancing guidelines can be achieved.By diligently creating a social distancing plan, community and business leaders can:
- craft a communications plan that presents to their respective communities/organizations the importance of social distancing and emphasize individual responsibility for implementing recommended personal-level actions;
- ensure compliance with laws and regulations pertaining to social distancing;
- consider social and political factors that can affect implementation and anticipate how to mitigate effects;
- develop a business continuity strategy (for business owners) that ensures most critical activities and processes are operational while abiding by social distancing guidelines;
- proactively devise actions that can counter the stigma experienced by those who have been subjected to quarantine or self-isolation; and
- set a basis for a post-epidemic evaluation to identify lessons and inform future strategies in the event of a new epidemic.
Lead the way with responsible social distancing planning
The success of social distancing measures may depend on its strict and conscious implementation. Measures like social distancing may cause disturbance to normal daily life, but it is only temporary and one of the best ways to protect those who are most vulnerable.
With iAuditor by SafetyCulture, community and business leaders can create social distancing plans and lead their people in implementing proper social distancing in their respective communities. Furthermore, they can:
- create customizable social distancing plans and enable collaboration, through digital platforms, with other stakeholders to create the best strategy;
- ensure that all factors related to legal, regulatory, and policy issues are taken into account;
- assign actions (with automated notifications) to members of the social distancing implementation team;
- utilize mobile devices to take photo evidences as social distancing measures are executed; and
- enable digital sign-offs for approval of the social distancing plan.
Featured Social Distancing Plan Templates
For schools in cities that are not on lockdown, campus managers can use this social distancing plan template to establish school practices that promote social distancing. This tool can help set and implement a social distancing protocol that ultimately protects the health and welfare of students and school staff.
This social distancing plan template can help those managing congregate settings (e.g. assisted living facilities, homeless shelters, prisons, detention centers, and schools) implement measures that abide by specific social distancing guidelines and requirements of their respective governments.
Nursing homes and adult care facility administrators can utilize this template to create a social distancing protocol to help protect the health of residents and reduce the risk of infection among them and their carers. You can customize this social distancing plan template accordingly to accommodate practices that would best suit your needs.
This social distancing plan template can be used by managers of warehouses and depots as a checklist for setting social distancing guidelines in their facilities and ensure the necessary placement of controls to help their staff comply with social distancing.