What is the best way to re-introduce social networks while continuing to practice social distancing in a post-lockdown world?

Picnic, Outdoors, Group, People, Friends, Social

Bottom Line:

Maintaining social networks may be an effective and more practical way of reducing the spread of COVID-19 compared to current social distancing practices.

Reference:

Block, P. et al. Social network-based distancing strategies to flatten the COVID-19 curve in a post-lockdown world. Nature Human Behaviour (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-020-0898-6

Date Published:

4 June 2020

Synopsis:

Recently, many jurisdictions have begun to ease lockdown restrictions to avoid the adverse psychological, social, and economic consequences of prolonged lockdowns. However, the gradual easing of restrictions must be balanced with measures to continue flattening the curve and encouraging adherence to social distancing. To determine an optimal way of maintaining social networks while continuing to slow down the spread of COVID-19, researchers evaluated the effectiveness of three different distancing strategies: (1) choosing contact partners based on similar attributes (e.g. meeting people who live in the same neighbourhood or share similar sociodemographic characteristics as you); (2) choosing contact partners while considering who the partners usually interact with (e.g. meeting a friend only if you have friends in common); and (3) choosing which contacts to regularly interact with and restricting interaction to these people (e.g. forming a social bubble and only meeting these people). The results of the modelling data showed that all three strategies were effective in slowing the spread of coronavirus compared to no social distancing at all and social distancing without any strategies, with the third strategy being the most effective. The findings from this study suggest that maintaining social networks may be an effective and more practical way of reducing the spread of COVID-19 compared to current social distancing practices.

Summary by: Louis Huynh