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Social distance and fewer contacts

Published Updated

Increased distance and fewer close contacts are two key measures to reduce transmission in the coronavirus pandemic. Increasing the distance between people and reducing the number of contacts reduces the risk of being infected by people who were unaware they were infected.

Increased distance and fewer close contacts are two key measures to reduce transmission in the coronavirus pandemic. Increasing the distance between people and reducing the number of contacts reduces the risk of being infected by people who were unaware they were infected.


From 4 January until 19 January, the Government recommends limiting social contact. Avoid having guests in the home during this period. This also applies to adolescents. Children in childcare centres and primary schools can have visits from their own cohort.

Advice to everyone

  • Remember good hand hygiene and cough etiquette.

  • Keep 1 metre away from others you live with. Avoid physical contact, including handshake and hugging.

  • The risk of infection is higher indoors than outdoors, especially in small and poorly ventilated rooms.
  • If you develop symptoms of a respiratory infection, you need to stay home and you should be tested.

  • When you suspect that you have COVID-19 disease

Keep your distance

COVID-19 is transmitted mainly through droplet and contact infection. Increasing the distance between people reduces the risk of COVID-19 infection.

You and those you live with can be together as normal. "Those you live with" also include a boy/girlfriend. If you live alone, you can have two-three close friends that you can be physically close to. These should be the same over time.

Children and adolescents can, in addition to those with whom they live and boy/girlfriend, have two or three close friends who they can be physically close to (should be the same over time). Children in childcare and primary school can have normal play and interaction with children who belong to the same cohort.

At least one metre distance is the main rule:

  • Keep a distance from everyone you do not live with, or who are among those you can be physically close to.

  • The distance from face to face is most important. Back to back, or behind each other (as in a queue), gives a lower risk of infection. When sitting next to someone, there should be 1 metre distance from your shoulder to the other person's shoulder.

  • Avoid physical contact, including handshakes and hugging.

  • Passing by someone gives little risk of transmission.

At least to metre distances are recommended when you should be extra careful, for example if you are in a situation where you:

  • are in contact with people who have COVID-19 (people who are in isolation)

  • are in contact with people in risk groups, when there is high transmission in society

  • participate in activity with forceful breathing (singing, training with high intensity, etc.)

Social and physical contact during the pandemic
Illustration: Norwegian Institute of Public Health

More about distance

Based on current knowledge, the NIPH considers that a distance of 1 metre provides a sufficient reduction in risk in most situations, but a distance of 1 metre does not rule out infection. In situations where people do not move around much, the risk is lower, for example in rooms with fixed seating. The risk of infection is lower if face-to-face contact is avoided. We therefore recommend that seats are given priority over standing places in situations of congestion in public transport.

Covid-19 infects significantly less outdoors than indoors. Good ventilation and air exchange reduce the risk of infection. NIPH therefore recommends keeping an extra distance in poorly ventilated rooms.

Read more:

Fewer contacts than usual

Having contact with many others increases the risk of being infected by people who did not know they were infected. We therefore recommend everyone to limit the number of contacts both in private settings, at events and at work, school and place of study.

  • You and those you live with can be together as normal. "Those you live with" also include a boy/girlfriend. If you live alone, you can have two-three close friends that you can be physically close to. These should be the same over time.

  • Where many people live together, for example in asylum reception centres, halls of residence or barracks, divide the dwelling / building, so that only smaller groups (max. 5-10) use the same common areas. The most at risk should have their own bathroom, toilet and kitchen or have their food delivered.

  • Other contacts should be the same over time, for example their separate groups in the workplace or in school and childcare.

  • Read about Smittestopp (helsenorge.no)

Several national recommendations and orders are aimed at having fewer contacts:

  • Avoid having guests in the home. Exceptions for necessary home services and visits to people who are at the end of life.

  • People who live alone can have visits from, or can visit, one or two regular friends or to a permanent household.

  • Children in childcare centres and primary schools may be visited by a few friends from their own cohort.

  • Young people and adolescents who have been in situations where it has been difficult to keep a distance of at least one metre should keep a distance of at least two metres when they visit people in risk groups.

  • Number restrictions for private and public events, gatherings and activities

  • Number restrictions and advice for reduced contact in sports

NB: A municipality may have adopted stricter recommendations or orders. You must therefore also follow the municipality's website to stay up to date on what applies where you are.

Advice for everyday life

History

15.01.2021 Added link to helsenorge.no about advice for everyday life during corona times

14.01.2021 Clarification about visits from children and adolescents until 19 January.

08.01.2021 Clarification that temporary recommendations are implemented from January 4th to January 19th.

04.01.2021 Added new restrictions on the number of social contacts.

01.12.2020 Created own article about social distance - information taken from another chapter and updated with current knowledge.

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