Ministers in the United Kingdom are thinking of relaxing social distance’s two-meter rule in workplaces. But the question now is, would it be safe?

Science says that the closer in proximity you are to an infected person, the greater the risk of transmission. The World Health Organization recommends a safe distance of at least one meter, while others are opting for 1.5 to 2 meters. Another important thing to note is the time you spend in close distance with an infected person.

So where does the two-meter rule of social distance come from? Interestingly, this rule can be traced back to a 1930’s research. According to it, when somebody coughs or sneezes, droplets of liquid released will either evaporate in the air or fall to the ground due to gravity. The majority of the droplets would land within two meters. Therefore, scientists regard proximity and surface contact as modes of virus transmission.

But lately, some scientists are worried if the coronavirus can only be transmitted through droplets. If the virus could also be transmitted through tiny particles called aerosols, then it means that it could be carried over farther distances. For the US Centers for Disease Control, the spread of viruses through aerosols is still undetermined. Moreover, it’s not yet confirmed whether viruses that were spread further than two meters are considered to be contagious.

Governments in different countries are ordering their citizens to wear face masks as a precaution against the coronavirus. In places where the two-meter rule of social distancing cannot be applicable like in workplaces, face masks may slow down the transmission of virus and may give confidence to employees to return to their jobs, according to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

We do not have definite answers yet to know what exactly is the “safe” distance. Scientists are still finding out how the virus can be carried and if it’s still infectious after reaching a certain distance. But in the meantime, wearing face masks and maintaining social distance of at least two meters are some of the measures one can do to prevent virus transmission.