Socialising, social distancing and mingling in COVID-19 settings

What are the current rules on socialising?

So far we have been talking about social distancing. Now there is a new terminology introduced. That is socialising. It refers to how many people can meet together in social settings.First I share information from different countries that is available. While there are specific rules in different countries what I present are the general guidelines applicable anywhere. 

Remember, maintainI got social distance and wearing a mask or having your face covered is the safest practice to prevent getting COVID-19 disease.

People in Northern Ireland and Scotland are no longer allowed to socialise in their homes with people they don’t live with. 

In England, a maximum of six people from multiple households can meet up both indoors and outdoors – in private homes, pubs, restaurants and parks. All ages are included in the headcount. There are some exceptions – for example when a single household has more than six occupants.

In Scotland, people are being told not to visit other households or other private indoor spaces. 

In public indoor spaces, where Covid-secure guidelines are observed, six people from two households can gather. The same rule of six applies in outdoor spaces, including private gardens. 

Children aged 11 or under will be exempt form the headcount. Young people aged 12 to 18 will also be exempt from the two household limit and allowed to meet together outdoors in groups of six. 

Northern Ireland has also announced tougher rules. Social mixing of households is not allowed inside private homes although there are some exceptions.  

Up to six people from two households can meet in private gardens. In other places, both inside and outside, up to 15 can gather with social distancing.

In wales it is now illegal for more than six people to meet indoors. Even then the six people must be from the same household.

However, people living alone in areas under local restrictions can now meet one other in household indoors, Children aged 10 and under do not count in the total. 

How can we generalise from this? The number six individuals seems to stand out as the permitted number. Children apparently do not count in this number. Even in families with more than six members this does not count. This applies to socialising indoors.

Outdoors socialising seems to be a bit more liberal going up to fifteen individuals.

In practical terms, what this means is that birthday parties are out. Similarly there are local guidelines that apply to weddings and receptions varying from place to place. 

There are strict guidelines on attending for funerals. Again it varies from place to place, with 30 being the highest number I have seen.

What are the rules on mingling?

The guidelines for England refer to times when “mingling” could break the rules. It says “there can be multiple groups of six people in a place, provided that those groups do not mingle”. 

If you are at a restaurant or other venue, you should “avoid mingling with anyone outside the group you are with, even if you see other people you know”. 

People attending a protest, or other organised event, should also attend in groups no larger than six.

The following are the exceptions to the rule of six. If your household is larger than six, education and training, workplaces, protests and political events, if coronavirus rules are followed, jury duty or other legal commitments, children’s play groups and youth clubs, support groups, such as for addiction or abuse.

What is the guidance on social distancing?

Social distancing has wavered between 1 and 2 metres. At the upper end the advice is to stay 2m (6ft) away from anyone you don’t live with. This is safer than the 1 metre distance. The exception to this is, you can stay 1 metre away if you do something “plus” such as wearing a face mask or face covering. There is also the realisation that the 2 metre distancing may not be realistic in situations like hair dressing.

These are guidelines that are emerging as we see the COVID-19 not going away as many would desire. There’s safety in following these guidelines.

Those of you who are interested in obtaining or sharing my book on COVID-19, may click on the links below for the global eBook or the Indian eBook respectively.

Rajaratnam Abel

Published by rajaratnamabel

Having completed my undergraduate medical education from Christian Medical College, Vellore, India. Then I had the privilege of completing my Master of Public Health from the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA. I could also complete my PhD in Chennai, India. Based on my extensive work in nutrition backed by a number of scientific publication, I also received the Fellowship of the International College of Nutrition (FICN). I retired from active service in 2005. Since then God enabled me to be a Consultant Public Health Physician, at the SUHAM Trust of the DHAN Foundation in Madurai. I am involved in providing community based health care support to a large number Self Help Groups in 14 Indian states.

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