Self-monitoring, self-isolation and social distancing

What does it mean to self-monitor and to self-isolate?

How should I prepare for self-isolation if myself or a family member becomes sick?

  • Download the PHAC COVID-19 - Be Prepared fact sheet or visit the website.Take time to consider what you will do if you or a family member becomes sick and needs care. Think about:
    • What food and household supplies you need for you and your family
    • What medicines you need, including renewing and refilling prescriptions ahead of time
  • Discuss your plans with your family, friends and neighbours, and set up a system to check in on each other by phone, email or text during times of need.

What is social distancing?

According to PHAC, social distancing means making changes in your everyday routines in order to minimize close contact with others, including:

  • avoiding crowded places and non-essential gatherings
  • avoiding common greetings, such as handshakes
  • limiting contact with people at higher risk (e.g. older adults and those in poor health)
  • keeping a distance of at least 2 arms lengths (approximately 2 metres) from others, as much as possible

What is physical distancing?

Physical distancing means avoiding close physical contact with others to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Public health experts are now using the term physical distancing to better describe what they are asking people to do to break the chain and slow the spread of COVID-19. Limiting physical interactions with others by practising physical distancing is an effective solution to protect against the spread of COVID-19. Physical distancing includes:

  • Avoid non-essential trips into the community
  • Cancel group gatherings
  • Work from home, where possible
  • Conduct meetings virtually
  • Keep kids away from group gatherings
  • No visits to long-term care homes and other care settings

Why social (physical) distancing and not masks?

  • Social distancing works because the virus is not airborne and we become infected if we touch, or get too close to someone who is infected. Social distancing doesn’t require any equipment and it can be practised by everyone.
  • The evidence on the use of masks by the general population is mixed, at best. In general:
    • If you have symptoms you should wear a mask in the home if you live with others. You must also wear a mask if you need to leave your home for medical appointments. Otherwise stay home for 14 days or until you do not have symptoms. Wear a mask if you are symptomatic both in the home if you have close contact with others and if you leave to seek treatment.

    • There is no evidence for the general public that wearing a mask protects you. It may however protect others especially in situations where physical distancing is difficult. Wear a homemade mask if you feel it is important to you to protect others. Reserve medical masks for healthcare workers. Masks are not recommended for healthy individuals to wear during their normal daily activities.

    • Most people are not used to wearing masks so they do not wear them correctly and this increases the number of times that they touch their face to adjust the mask, increasing their chance of introducing the virus into their own body. Additionally, the literature on the use of masks is based on surgical masks, not homemade masks.
    • Homemade masks do not have the filtration of proper surgical masks, become moist when you wear them and provide a false sense of security for those that wear them.
  • When and How to Wear a Mask: Recommendations for the General Public

Here’s how you can practice social (physical) distancing:

  • greet with a wave instead of a handshake, a kiss or a hug
  • stay home as much as possible
  • shop or take public transportation during off-peak hours
  • conduct virtual meetings
  • host virtual playdates for your kids
  • use technology to keep in touch with friends and family

If possible,

  • use food delivery services or online shopping
  • exercise at home or outside
  • work from home

Remember to:

  • wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your face
  • cough or sneeze into the bend of your arm
  • avoid touching surfaces people touch often

Download the PHAC Social Distancing Information Sheet for reference.