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It’s not “social distancing” it is “physical distancing” to have a bubble of  1.5 metres or six feet around you that is your safety zone during the COVID-19 crisis.

And there is a difference~physical distancing means that you can still walk around the neighbourhood, see if you can buy groceries for a neighbour,  and contact family and friends through technology.  It may make you communicate in ways that are unexpected, but there is still a social bond with people around you.

There are some remarkable stories coming out of physical distancing.  At 7 p.m every night residents in the west end come out on their balconies to cheer for the doctors and health care workers. This is part of a global initiative with its own hashtag #clapfordoctors.

There’s also the little home made lending  book  kiosks in neighbourhoods where people who leave a book can take a book; in some cases, residents have chosen to leave canned tins and food in these mini libraries so that everyone can be fed.

There are ads on CraigsList and Facebook Marketplace of volunteers willing to shop for and pick up groceries or go to the drugstore for people. Here’s an opportunity for the City of Vancouver to have staff remotely assist in the match up of  people that cannot get groceries and services with those that can. That can provide assistance at the neighbourhood level, and would be a well valued initiative.

Parents and families are also using the street differently too. In my neighbourhood the parents come out with lawn chairs and drinks every sunny afternoon. With the respect of necessary physical distance they  set up on the sun splashed part of the road.

With the current level of minimal traffic, kids in the neighbourhood can bike right around their block, something seen as unattainable when there was the normal heavier volume of vehicles at speed.

As three sociology professors from the University of California Los Angeles stated:

We must be physically distant now — our health depends on it. But we should redouble our efforts to be socially close. Our health depends on that, too.”

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