Civility and social distancing

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Some time ago I posted an article about civility and, if ever there was a time that civility has become more relevant, surely that time is now during the Covid-19 crisis that is affecting the whole world.

Where I am based we are instructed to observe social distancing but does everyone do this? No, not all people do it by any means. Some seem totally unaware of this advice although it is possible that some of these people are truly unaware. Recent migrants with a limited command of English come to mind and remember these people probably go back every night to overcrowded accommodation with limited hygiene facilities.

Then, of course, there are those people who know better than the experts. These people choose to ignore the advice given by the medical authorities and have no hesitation in walking, running, or standing close to other people. I notice this behaviour varies from suburb to suburb with the 25-40 age group possibly being the greatest offenders across the board. Perhaps they don’t like the concept of authority, of being told what to do. They are generally the brashest in their behaviour and give out dirty or querulous looks to those seeking to avoid them by the official distance.

Luckily we are still allowed out to exercise and many fellow walkers respect each other, but not all. As we notice a person approaching us, an event which my wife has chosen to announce as “incoming” as if the person were enemy fire, we can very quickly assess whether the ‘missile’ approaching has the slightest intention to socially distance. Only about 40% fall into this category.

Worst of all I find, are the runners and the cyclists. The former seem to think they own the footpath and rush on through, and past, walkers while sweating profusely and spreading who-knows-what in their wake. The cyclists should not be on the footpath at all; presumably, at the thoughtless expense of others, they are protecting their own safety from the little traffic that continues.

It is perhaps too early to say to what extent social distancing is helping but the first signs are positive. Let’s all practice civility towards each other by giving it a real try and seeing if we cannot get the better of this terrible bug so that we can all return to our normal lives as soon as possible – hopefully with an increased measure of concern and civility towards others.

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