Physical (Social) Distancing

In order to decrease the potential transmission of COVID-19, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit is recommending that all residents of the region practise physical distancing (also called social distancing) and stay home as much as possible. If you have been told to self-isolate/isolate, click here for instructions.

Physical distancing involves taking steps to limit the number of people you come into close contact with. The steps below can limit the spread of COVID-19 in the community, and will help to protect our most vulnerable residents.

Stay home, stay safe:

  • Stay at home as much as possible, and avoid non-essential trips in the community. Every time you leave your home, you are increasing your risk of getting or spreading COVID-19.
  • As much as possible, you should limit the number of essential trips outside of your home. Essential trips include:
    • Accessing healthcare services
    • Shopping for groceries
    • Picking up medication at the pharmacy
    • Walking pets when required
    • Supporting vulnerable community members with meeting the above needs
    • NOTE: Many services can be accessed online so that you do not need to leave your home. If you must go out to shop for essentials, limit trips to once a week or less, avoid going to multiple stores, and follow recommendations for safe shopping.
  • For essential trips:
    • Sanitize or wash your hands when entering and exiting buildings.
    • If you must go out for groceries or to the pharmacy, consider going at non-peak hours and try to maintain about 2 metres distance from others. Shop alone (don't bring children or your spouse).
    • To reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19, it is recommended that you use a face covering (non-medical mask) when keeping two-metres’ distance from others may be challenging or not possible, such as in crowded public spaces. The use face coverings or face masks (non-medical masks such as cloth masks) is required in public areas of the enclosed space.
    • When taking public transit, avoid prolonged close contact with others. Travel during non-peak hours, and where possible, take shorter trips rather than one long trip.
    • Avoid long lineups, and if you must line up, keep a distance of 2 metres between yourself and the next person.
    • Use tap to pay rather than handling money.
    • Wash your hands as soon as you get home.
  • Talk to your employer about whether you can work from home. Use video or teleconferencing instead of in-person meetings, where possible.
  • Avoid contact with people at higher risk (e.g. older adults and those in poor health).
  • Do not visit long-term care homes, retirement homes, supportive housing, hospices and other care settings unless the visit is absolutely essential.
  • Limit, postpone or cancel group gatherings (Note: gatherings with more than 50 people  indoors and 100 people outdoors are prohibited under Ontario’s State of Emergency declaration)
    • Connect with friends, family and others by phone or online
    • Keeps children away from group settings including indoor playdates with other children
  • If you are over 70 years of age, or have a compromised immune system or medical condition: Given the greater risk of severe outcomes for older adults and those with medical conditions or compromised immune systems, it is strongly recommended that you self-isolate. This means only leaving home or seeing other people for essential reasons. Where possible, you should seek services over the phone or internet or ask for help from friends, family or neighbours with essential errands.

You can go for a walk if you:

  • have not been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • do not have symptoms of COVID-19
  • have not travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days
  • have not been instructed to self-isolate/isolate

If you go out for a walk, avoid crowds, do not walk in a group and always practise physical distancing by keeping at least two metres apart from others at all times. If you are in a public area, remember to practise hand hygiene and sneeze or cough into your sleeve or a tissue. Wash your hands as soon as you get home.

Related information:

Face Coverings and Face Masks

Shopping Etiquette

Self-Monitoring, Self-Isolation and Isolation Instructions for COVID-19

Eastern Ontatio Health Unit / Bureau de santé de l'Ontario