Social Distancing

What might our social relationships be like in the future?

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Even if immediate mistrust were implemented, social interactions will remain limited for several more months. Researchers are trying to imagine what our future social life will be like. Shaking hands, celebrating or participating in a concert is not yet on the program.

Our social universe has been significantly reduced since the beginning of the closure. And for good reason, everyone is subject to restrictions of all kinds to protect themselves from the coronavirus. As a result, we spend a lot of time with family or alone. Will these little social bubbles one day expand? What will our post-containment interactions be like?

The various governments that are organizing a gradual return to normality have warned their citizens: Barrier measures must continue to apply until a vaccine is manufactured and marketed. Shaking hands, kissing, partying indoors or even participating in a concert is not on the show yet.

If maintaining current social distancing measures would be more effective, experts say these limits will have serious repercussions on the population's mental health, as well as on the economy. In a study by Oxford University, researchers told CNN: "You have to find the balance between staying home, meeting people, and how we want to hang out with them."

They propose promoting exclusive socialization, by geographic area. Each person could start, for example, by creating a group with their neighborhood neighbors. In the long term, this circle could widen and vary. The goal: to prevent the virus from spreading between groups at all costs.

This is why it is important, scientists recall, to take into account the number of contacts between the people who make up the group, or the "social bubble". Within a family, for example, contact is often limited in a small circle. Therefore, the risk of infection for the entire community is reduced.

The last factor to take into account, according to the authors of this work, concerns vulnerable people. It would be better if these people received care from the same doctor or nurse to reduce the risk of infection. As for children, the creation of a small social group would allow them to change their ideas without greatly increasing the risk of transmission of the virus in their respective homes.

We are certainly not ready to go to the stadium to attend a soccer game, or to travel from one country to another to visit friends. But once our social life is reorganized over time, the researchers hope that it is possible to return to normal.

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