The rule seems simple enough: stay at least six feet away from other people.
But nothing is ever as easy as it seems:
- I thought social distancing applies only to people who aren’t members of your own household. If my life had turned out differently, and I had six children who still lived with me, my wife, my kids, and I could all go out together. As it stands, I go out for a walk with my wife pretty much every afternoon, walking hand in hand as often as not. Am I doing something wrong?
- I’m still not clear as to whether ‘six feet’ means six feet on center (what you’d get if drew lines on the sidewalk six feet apart and had people stand on them) or six feet extremity to extremity. The graphic (above) that’s appeared in my apartment building suggests that it’s six feet on center, but walking down the street, it’s easier to assess extremity to extremity (is any part of another person closer than six feet to me?).
- If you’re on the sidewalk in motion, and someone approaches in the opposite direction, what do you do? I will try to maneuver to keep as much space as practical, slowing down or speeding up if a stretch of sidewalk is particularly narrow. But it seems excessive to cross into the street to avoid a momentary violation of the six-foot threshold. It seems really excessive to stick out a tape measure and poke others in the ribs.
I’m asking having seen videos of the horrors of ‘people in public spaces not social distancing’ which typically show people in a park, walking and enjoying a sunny day, for the most part keeping reasonable distances, with some couples or small groups staying together. Are the people who photograph and post these videos genuinely concerned for the public health, or resentful that somewhere, somehow, people might be enjoying themselves?
And what about couples who aren’t married and aren’t living together? The executive order states, ‘Non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason (e.g. parties, celebrations or other social events) are canceled or postponed at this time,’ which would seem to include dates. But who is Uncle Andy to stand in the path of true love?
In another time, I wouldn’t give rules like this a second thought. But in another time, we wouldn’t have rules like this at all.
Dr. Bob, years ago, said that ‘rules are made for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men.’ I’ll take the rules in that spirit. I’ll endeavor to keep my distance, but won’t yell at people for violating my Sacred Bubble. I’ll wait for the next elevator (or maybe take the stairs) but won’t wait for the next subway train. And I had a girlfriend but not a wife, I would be more than happy to go on a date (such as one can with the restaurants and theatres closed) with said girlfriend, Uncle Andy’s admonitions notwithstanding.