Maintain physical distancing

Physical distancing is an important way we can protect ourselves against COVID-19.

Physical distancing

Physical distancing, sometimes known as ‘social distancing’, is about keeping a safe distance from others.

This is about physical distance. For your own mental health you can, and should, keep in touch with friends and family via the phone, or online.

Hongi and harirū

We are all being asked to play our part to refrain from physical contact to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

COVID-19 can spread from person to person through physical contact. As well as the impact on New Zealanders generally, this will have an effect on particular areas of tikanga Māori including kawa, as we move to protect our whānau, hapū and iwi. It will particularly affect those who are more vulnerable such as our kaumātua — our koroua and kuia.

In practice, for those who do not live together and aren’t family/whānau or close friends, this means suspending our customs of hongi and harirū, as well as kissing, hugging and other forms of close physical contact.

Alternatives include waving, smiling or other non-physical contact greetings.

Face coverings

Even if you’re wearing a face covering, we recommend still physically distancing. 

Physical distancing at Alert Level 1

COVID-19 is contained at Alert Level 1, so you do not need to maintain physical distance from others. However, it’s still worthwhile keeping a safe distance from people you don’t know while out and about. This will help minimise the spread of COVID-19 if it reappears in the community.

Stay safe at Alert Level 1

At Alert Level 1, we still need to play it safe. We all need to be ready in case COVID-19 comes back into the community.

To be ready at Alert Level 1:

  • practise good hygiene
  • stay home if you’re sick
  • get tested if you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms
  • wear face coverings on public transport and domestic flights
  • keep track of where you’ve been and who you’ve seen.

Get more advice on living at Alert Level 1, including keeping your distance, and contact tracing for businesses

Physical distancing at Alert Level 2

At Alert Level 2, you can leave home and do many aspects of everyday life. You should follow public health measures and consider others around you.

We still need to be careful and socialise safely to keep COVID-19 under control.  

What we can do: 

  • Keep a 2 metre distance in public. Take extra care if you interact with people you do not know as it will not be easy to do contact tracing if needed. This means making the space when you’re in places like playgrounds, parks, retail businesses, shopping malls or walking along the street.
  • Keep 1 metre physical distance in ‘controlled environments’ where contact tracing and other public health measures are possible. This includes places like cafes, church groups, gatherings, restaurants and gyms.

You can socialise at Alert Level 2, but keep track of where you’ve been and who you’ve seen. This is easier if you socialise with people you know well.

If you’re feeling sick or have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, we recommend you stay at home and not socialise with anyone.

Physical distancing at Alert Level 3

Outside of your home, you legally must keep a 2 metre distance from people at all times, as much as possible.

Workers legally must maintain 1 metre physical distance in the workplace, as much as possible.

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