1 metre social distancing – what it really means for orange regions

Image Source: South Taranaki District Council

Many of us (including me) have been under the misapprehension that the 1m social distancing rule for Covid-19 means that we need to maintain at least 1 metre distancing between participants in small group sessions, and this has prevented many partners from resuming their Stepping UP classes. It certainly contributed to our decision to put DORA out to pasture for 3 months. However, our good friend, Pete Gray, Manager – Libraries & Community at Whanganui District Council, pointed out the error of our thinking today to Alistair Fraser on our DIAA team by directing us to the official Government Covid-19 Protection Framework (traffic lights) on what an orange traffic light means for public facilities such as libraries.

To quote from the official word: “some capacity limits are based on 1 metre distancing. This means the maximum number of people who could occupy the space if each person was 1 metre apart. People do not need to stand 1 metre apart.In other words, the 1 metre rule is about capacity limits in defined spaces, not actual social distancing.

DORA is a 7 metre bus; we assess the social distancing capacity would be 7 people (based on above rule), and this excludes ‘workers’, who in our case would be the tutors. So this means it would be pretty much ‘business as usual’ for attendees with Vaccine Passes. We can only assume the same would be true for library partners.

But what about masks? The Government accepts that there are situations when face coverings can temporarily be removed, and in particular “to eat or drink” or “to talk with someone who needs to see others’ mouths to communicate, due to being deaf or hard of hearing”.

So with nearly all regions moving to Orange on 31 December 2021, now is the time to plan your 2022 Stepping UP classes. Thanks Pete and Alistair for helping us to get this clear.

Author: Laurence Zwimpfer

I am committed to supporting the development of New Zealand as a digitally included nation, where everyone has equitable opportunities to benefit from the digital world.

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