A doctor's guide to social distancing

Whether it's walking the dog, going to the grocery store, or visiting the elderly, here's how to practice social distancing outside of your home.

Slowing the spread of COVID-19

At the grocery store

When it comes to getting your groceries during an era of social distancing, online ordering and delivery is always the best option, but if you are unable to do so or can’t wait that long, Chief Medical Officer of Healix International, Dr. Adrian Hyzler, has some best practices. When in a grocery store, avoid close or direct contact with others, especially anyone who appears to be unwell or who is coughing. Additionally, aim to only come in contact with necessary surfaces or items as you are shopping, keep alcohol based sanitizer with you, or wear protective gloves.

Walking with your dog

Your dog will need to go outside and you should not be discouraged to head out there with them to give them necessary relief. It can be a great tool to avoid cabin fever as well. Dr. Hyzler once again recommends avoiding contact with surfaces and maintaining a safe distance from another dog owner, for example, while completely avoiding anyone who may be coughing into their hands. Hand hygiene through the entire process cant be stressed enough.

Living with roommates

If sharing a living space with others is necessary, avoiding direct contact through hand shaking or hugging is still recommended, even if everyone appears perfectly healthy. However, if anyone begins to show or feel any signs of illness they must immediately self-isolate, Dr. Hyzler stresses. The affected must use their own bathroom if possible and maintain six feet of distance from roommates. If they show COVID-19 symptoms they need to wear a mask while isolated and anyone who needs to enter their room must wash their hands before and after. FInally any dishes or utensils used by someone symptomatic must be washed separately from others.

At the gym

You probably should avoid going to a local gym entirely, and odds are that gyms or fitness centers near you have closed temporarily, but if you find one open Dr. Hyzler has these precautions: Even if the gym advertises increased cleaning measures you should go with alcohol wipes and thoroughly clean any areas of equipment you will contact before and after use. Don't use a towel during your workout that will need to rest on surfaces or potentially come into contact with your face.

At restaurants and bars

Assuming any level of viral community spread in your area, you should avoid visiting bars or restaurants. If residing in a very lightly or unaffected locality you should still avoid any establishments that are crowded.

Going to appointments

The best advice at the moment is obviously to cancel most any face to face appointments you might have scheduled and suggest remote conferencing or video chatting with them. If you absolutely must keep an appointment in person you should make it as brief as possible, involving as few people as possible. Now is not the time to get that haircut or pedicure.

Visiting the elderly

In short, don’t, says Dr. Hyzler. The elderly and immuno-compromised are at highest risk to develop serious complications from COVID-19 contraction. Any younger or otherwise healthy person can easily carry the virus without displaying any symptoms and physical contact with older relatives or the elderly should be completely restricted unless you are a caregiver using protective gear. Your grandparents would be just as touched to facetime with you and they’ll understand that your next visit will need to wait.