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Changes to daily life ahead as need for social distancing grows amid coronavirus pandemic

Last Updated Mar 16, 2020 at 9:33 am PDT

FILE (iStock Photo)

Public health officials stress the need to practise social distancing to curb the spread of COVID-19

Some companies have already opted to close amid the virus outbreak

Some cities are closing public facilities while others serve as cautionary tales of neglecting social distancing

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The novel coronavirus closures are impacting nearly all aspects of everyday life from workouts to morning coffee as the need for social distancing grows.

While health officials are pushing for social distancing, companies are also choosing to shut their doors to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Goodlife announced all facilities across Canada will be closed effective immediately because of the outbreak.

“We know that exercise is extremely important to an individual’s physical and mental health and we are currently working on digital and at home fitness options. We will have more for you in the coming days,” reads a statement from the company.

Member payments are suspended for now.

Starbucks is also moving to a to-go model for all its stores in the U.S. and Canada for at least two weeks over concern about the virus. It said Sunday it is closing seating in its cafes and patio areas, but customers can still order at the counter, at drive-throughs, or on the Starbucks app.

The company will also temporarily close stores in what it calls “high social-gathering locations,” such as malls and university campuses, and it will close stores or reduce hours in areas where there are clusters of COVID-19 cases.

On Sunday, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Doctor Theresa Tam stressed the need to “flatten the curve” to prevent the exponential rise in the number of new cases in favour of a slower spread that won’t overwhelm the health care system.

Read more: Window to flatten the COVID-19 curve is narrow, Canada’s chief public health officer says

The B.C. government and others have already prohibited large gatherings, with B.C. putting a cap on gatherings of more than 250 people resulting in cancellations of major sporting events, concerts, and other outings. Some municipalities in the Lower Mainland have opted to close public facilities. Quebec has already ordered bars, gyms, and other public places to close.

Meanwhile, many U.S. cities, including New York and L.A., are already taking major steps in an attempt to slow the spread in their communities by closing schools and businesses.

Social distancing measures mean minimizing close contact with other people during an outbreak — i.e. staying far enough away from each other to reduce the chance of spreading infection. They include steps such as staying home when you’re sick, and more drastic measures by public agencies and governments like interruptions in social supports, reducing the frequency of services like transit, and asking people to work from home, when possible.

Without social distancing, it is possible to create new clusters of infection. Countries like Italy and China serve as cautionary tales about what can happen if the reaction is too slow.

South Korea had a good handle on its first 30 cases until “patient 31” ignored the advice of health professionals and did not practise social distancing. She may now be linked to 80 per cent of the country’s thousands of COVID-19 cases.

With files from Kevin Misener and The Associated Press