The Government has published a scientific paper on how to reduce the chances of transmitting Coronavirus whilst in your own home or the homes of other people. It’s extremely detailed, but worth a read if you want to know a lot more about the subject. However, it includes a handy shorter guide, which we’ve published here:
Ten principles for reducing household transmission during social interactions
It is inevitable that social interactions need to happen in a different way during the COVID-19 pandemic. Social events, celebrations and observances over the winter period pose a particular challenge. The following principles aim to set out an evidence-based structure to support decision making surrounding social interactions and enable any interactions that do take place to be as safe as possible.
1) Consider whether in-person interactions are essential and cannot be postponed or replaced by safer forms of interaction. Identify where in-person interactions could be replaced by online events or postponed until an appropriate future date.
2) Consider replacing indoor events with outdoor activities or using community spaces to host events. Community spaces such as community centres, neighbourhood parks, unused business space, temporary pedestrianisation of streets, etc. may provide more physical space and better ventilation compared to households with less space.
3) Recognise that most transmission occurs due to prolonged, close interaction with familiar people in a home environment. Within the home we may be more likely to assume people and places we know are safe. This may lead to an ‘intimacy paradox’ whereby a place we think is safe is in fact risky.
4) Take special care to protect people who are particularly vulnerable to serious consequences from infection. This includes older people and those with underlying health conditions. It is also important to reduce the risk of infection among those who have close contact with particularly vulnerable people.
5) Ensure people who are emotionally vulnerable have social support. Special care should be taken to interact safely with people who are socially isolated, including meeting outside if possible, online or by phone. People who have very little contact with others are unlikely to be infected and may be able to meet together safely. It is important to consider the particular needs of people who are very old or terminally ill.
6) People who have to self-isolate or quarantine should not have any in-person social interactions. If people have to self-isolate due to COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test, or quarantine because they have been in contact with a confirmed case, then it is essential to do so regardless of the occasion. Whenever possible this should include self-isolating from other household members, especially if they are vulnerable to infection. This does not apply to children, who should have at least one parent/carer isolate with them. Detailed government guidance has been provided on how to protect other people in the household when someone is self-isolating or quarantining
7) Limit interactions to the same small group of people as far as possible. This reduces the probability that someone will come into contact with the virus and limits how far the virus can spread if there is transmission. Meeting two groups of different people in the same week increases the risk of spreading the virus compared with meeting the same group of people twice. Limiting or avoiding interactions with other people in the 7-14 days before meeting, and reducing travel across different parts of the country can further reduce the likelihood of transmission
8) Limit the duration of time spent together, especially if meeting indoors. Indoor interactions should be restricted as much as possible and reserved for short duration quality time. Children should meet vulnerable relatives, including grandparents, outside where possible; brief meetings such as walking or playing outside are safest.
9) Manage the home environment, and how people interact together. Transmission through airborne, droplet and surface contact routes can be reduced by following the existing guidance on ‘Reducing the spread of COVID-19 in your household3 and considering specific risks and activities that may be associated with the event. It is important to support visitors and household members to practice good hygiene behaviours.
10) Negotiate and communicate with family, friends, and other visitors to create a safe meeting plan where responsibilities are appropriately shared. This plan is likely to be most successful if it is agreed in advance, and considers the location and duration of events, the physical environment and how people will interact. This includes communicating with children and those who are more vulnerable.