From 'one small bear' in Siberia to 'four trout' in Montana: How the world measures social distancing

BBC recommends people keep distance of 'one Hugh Pym' apart from each other

Conrad Duncan
Tuesday 21 April 2020 17:48
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By now, you will have almost certainly heard the health guidance to stay at least two metres away from people outside your household to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

However, while this advice is simple enough in theory, many people around the world have struggled to get to grips with what that distance actually looks like, inspiring authorities and news organisations to come up with some creative explanations.

The BBC has offered a range of examples for the two metre distance, from the length of a mattress to the length of two shopping trolleys.

Hugh Pym, the broadcaster’s health editor, is also conveniently two metres in height and has been brought out multiple times to demonstrate what a safe distance looks like.

Another popular example came from Siberia, where an information sign asked residents to “please keep the length of one small bear from each other”.

The animal theme was expanded upon elsewhere in Russia, as the country’s Arctic National Park recommended visitors keep a distance of either one bear, one seal or one reindeer apart.

Meanwhile in Canada, the government of Yukon has told residents to “stay one caribou apart”, while a sign in Vancouver explained two metres as “the distance from a cougar’s nose to the tip of its tail”.

In the US, Montana’s state fish, wildlife and parks department has offered a range of fish-based measurements, such as four trout, one paddlefish and one fishing rod.

Finally, the recommended distance in Australia was predictably the size of an adult kangaroo.

Keeping physical distance from other people is important because it reduces the chances of catching or spreading Covid-19.

“When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus,” the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.

“If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the Covid-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.”

Efforts to slow the spread of the virus are necessary to prevent health services from becoming overwhelmed by a surge in cases during an outbreak.

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