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'Don't come near me!': How Americans comply with quarantine requirements

Quarantine is so quarantine, - my husband and I decided and the week before last went for a walk in the mountains - away from people, the correspondent says "Voices of America" Maria Prus. Washington is two hours from the scenic Shenandoah National Park, it is part of the Appalachian Mountains.

Photo: Shutterstock

The path we chose was about half a meter wide, so sticking with it two meters away with other people was not easy. Some, seeing us, stopped at wide sections and politely let pass, often turning away so as not to literally breathe on each other and not exchange microbes. It seemed to me that older people and Asian Americans were especially cautious.

But not everyone thought about the distance: some companies of young Americans continued to ignore our attempts to let them through and stretch as far as possible.

However, I was most struck by the reaction of one young woman when we tried to overtake her and her companion. We wanted to quickly run around them, because they were moving very slowly, but when we got three meters closer, she turned around, straightened her hand forward and shouted rudely: “Do not come near me!” We tried to explain that we wanted to go forward, and she just as sharply answered: "Wait for the wide place of the trail." I share her desire to protect herself from potential infection, but, of course, bad manners do not justify this.

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Now in most states, national parks are closed, because on those trails it is really impossible to adhere to the recommended two meters of distance. Also, in our area all public places were closed, at the entrance to which you can hang a castle: sports grounds, tennis courts, dog parks. The gates were partially opened on open football fields so people could not play. There are signs everywhere that draw people's attention to quarantine activities.

And according to my observations, about 70-80% of people still try to avoid close contact with others: when someone comes forward, cross the street or go along a bicycle path, play sports alone or only with family. In stores, they approach the shelves in turn, at the checkout - they leave about a meter between their own cart and the next customer. For example, yesterday I asked a neighbor from our house not to enter the elevator with me, and he calmly fulfilled my request.

Of course, there are exceptions: at the stadium, I saw six guys throwing a ball for American football with their hands, and several people performed sports exercises with a trainer, standing very close. Sometimes in a store, some people get too close.

But at the same time, in my opinion, Americans have always respected the personal space of others more than, for example, Ukrainians. In the USA, they don’t breathe in the back of the head in a queue, they let people in at the door, they apologize if they can’t miss each other. In some states, people are not used to it at all, that a stranger can come closer to them unnecessarily than at arm's length - with the exception of transport, an elevator or a crowd.

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Yesterday, after work (from home), I went out to breathe air into the park and met a neighbor. We talked for about half an hour, quite comfortably keeping a distance of about two meters.

Yes, quarantine changes our daily lives, but does not prohibit communication, does not cancel walks (in the USA they are allowed), and in general life does not pause. It is quite possible to follow the rules of social distance. In the end, this is a small fee for our health, especially when compared with the risk that physicians and other emergency workers face - remember that for them there is simply no option to stay at home and avoid contact with other people.

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