Why we must make social distancing a way of life

As coronavirus continues to change the way we live, Australia is in the fortunate position where case numbers have dropped significantly in all states - but that doesn't mean we have it beaten.

As internal and state borders gradually reopen - and, eventually, as travel resumes internationally - exposure and the chance of new waves will go up exponentially.

We need to manage the risk associated with easing restrictions because this is a dangerous disease - one that cannot be underestimated.

This virus will be with us for a long time and social distancing is our best weapon to fight it.

When COVID-19 emerged in China last year, none of us truly understood the extent of things.

When Australia had its first confirmed case in January, mixed messages about the virus and how to avoid it started to emerge.

Eight months later, many of us have grown more comfortable.

But this is the problem. COVID is not our friend, it's the enemy.

Complacency has set in in many parts and it's a huge mistake. Australians must learn how to live in a COVID-19 environment and maintain social distancing and hand washing if we are to reduce the risks.

For more than 10 years, I have worked with businesses to ensure they meet high levels of cleanliness and hygiene.

More recently, I have been helping them navigate COVID.

This is a highly dangerous and contagious virus.

It enters our body through the mouth, nose and eyes and studies show we touch our face up to 16 times in one hour.

So, it's increasingly frustrating to watch cafe customers ignore QR sign-ins and see crowds gather at pubs and queues form in supermarkets without social distancing.

A new study has revealed that even since the outbreak, 1 in 10 Australians don't wash their hands after using the bathroom.

COVID-19 survives on surfaces.

Research is still being done to find out how long, but it can live 28 days on phone screens and ATMs - much longer than previously thought.

It's important to understand that cleaning and disinfecting are two different processes, and both need to be done frequently.

Some businesses are using signs and markings to remind customers of their social distance obligations.

Smart businesses are also turning to technology.

Cafes, retailers and medical and dental practices are employing devices to warn customers when they get too close to the counter.

It sounds extreme, but it works.

It may seem inconvenient and unnatural, but we are going to have to get used to keeping our distance from each other for some time yet.

Naomi Williams is the owner of Kleen Freek.

This story Why we must make social distancing a way of life first appeared on The Canberra Times.