Safety on the beach and why gyms can’t be reopened: DR ELLIE CANNON answers your questions about coronavirus
Last week we had to be two meters apart. Now it is one meter. Are they doing well as they go on?
The two-meter distance rule was always a substantiated estimate, since the virus is new and the available data was limited.
The UK was relatively strict in its distance rules compared to other countries.
France, Italy and Singapore have opted for a distance of one meter, while Germany has recommended 1.5 meters.
The further away you are from an infected person, the less likely you are to inhale contaminated drops emitted by someone talking or coughing – the primary mode of transmission. This is simply because the viral particles fall to the ground before they reach you.
The distance rule of two meters was, according to DR ELLIE CANNON, always a substantiated estimate
The British government was, according to some experts, too cautious to apply a two-meter rule because of the rapidly growing number of infections in March and April.
However, there is growing evidence that most viral particles travel just a few feet before falling to the ground.
And since the chances of coming into contact with an infected person are so low now, the government has decided it is safe to bring the rules down to one meter for those in England from July 4.
In Northern Ireland, the new one-meter long guide is effective from tomorrow. Scotland and Wales are considering it.
But the one-meter rule is only safe if other soothing measures are implemented, such as washing hands regularly, covering your mouth when you cough, and wearing face masks on public transportation.
According to the latest guidelines, the risks at one meter distance will not be greater than at two meters distance if we take these steps.
What are the rules for meeting other people now? It seems to change endlessly.
Currently, only people living alone and single parents with children under the age of 18 can visit and stay in another household in England – or vice versa.
These so-called ‘support bubbles’ were introduced earlier this month to help those who struggle with loneliness while incarcerated.
That will change in England. Starting next Saturday, one household can invite another household to come in and even stay overnight – regardless of the number of people in each household.
However, only two households may be involved in the covered meeting.
If the meeting is outside, multiple households can come together – as long as the total number of people does not exceed six. If there are only two households that meet outside, there is no limit to the total number of people.
But the rules differ in the UK.
Scotland is holding on to support bubbles – allowing people who live alone (or single parents with children under 18) to enter with another household. Outside, Scotland offers the opportunity to meet three households – up to eight people.
In Wales, all indoor meetings are prohibited and outdoor meetings are limited to two households.
In Northern Ireland, up to six people from any number of households can meet, although they can all come from different households
If pubs can open, why can’t gyms?
There are two main differences between pubs and restaurants – which may open on July 4 – and gyms that remain closed.
Cafés and restaurants will reopen on July 4, but gyms in the photo should remain closed
First, while gyms and pubs may both have people around each other, pubs offer protective measures to keep them apart – such as partitions between tables, back-to-back chairs, and table service.
Second, gyms are concerned that viral particles may be spread through shared equipment and locker rooms – a situation not common in pubs. For the same reason, swimming pools, spas and bowling lanes will also remain closed for the time being.
The government is currently investigating ways to reopen these locations.
Outdoor gyms can be used from next Saturday. They are already open in Northern Ireland and will be in Scotland from tomorrow. Wales has no immediate plans to follow suit.
Am I protected from the virus when I am on the beach?
Since the virus is still in circulation, it is impossible to guarantee that anyone, anywhere in the UK, will be safe from infection.
But studies show that being outdoors drastically reduces your risk, because droplets sent into the air by an infected person are quickly dispersed by even the slightest breeze.
Research from Japan found that only 12.5 percent of Covid-19 patients had transmitted the virus to others by socializing outside.
Other studies show that the virus is spread indoors in about 75 percent of cases.
However, on Friday, British Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty warned that overcrowding on beaches could increase the number of cases after swarms of revelers flocked to Bournemouth in Dorset.
While studies show that being outdoors drastically reduces your risk, there have also been warnings that beach overcrowding, as seen this week, could cause an increase in cases
Professor Keith Neal, an infectious disease expert at Nottingham University, says, “The virus is unlikely to spread on the beach, even if it is a little busy.
However, the risk increases significantly when people sit side by side, sharing towels and utensils, and drinking alcohol. You’re more likely to distance yourself from social distance rules when you’re drunk. ‘
Prof Neal advises to choose a quiet beach, use your own towel and stay a meter away from your household.
“And if you lie on your back or front, any infectious particles emitted from the nose or mouth will either fall to the floor in front of you or be dragged through the air instead of hitting another person in the face,” said he adds.
Does air conditioning increase the risk of contracting the virus?
Probably not. The fear was sparked early in the pandemic after a study blamed a minor outbreak in China for a restaurant’s air conditioning – which the researchers said caused the spread.
However, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control says that if the air conditioning units are properly maintained, they will filter the coronavirus droplets from the atmosphere, preventing them from circulating.
According to government guidelines, the risk of the coronavirus spreading through air conditioning is “extremely low.”