Social distancing, a phrase which was probably not a big part of our lexicon till recent, has become a buzzword post coronavirus outbreak, with people coming up with innovative ways to practice the life-saving precaution.
A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated that social distancing and staying indoors were the only ways to deal with the fast-spreading coronavirus, pictures and videos of people standing in circles and squares to buy essential items like groceries and milk in many states went viral.
Inspired by photos outside a mall in China where the management drew circles on the floor to maintain social distancing to contain the spread of coronavirus, people in parts of Maharashtra were seen practising the concept.
Ranjit Chougule, a resident of Pulachi Shiroli village near Kolhapur city said, "When I saw the photos of the China all, I was at first amused and thought those people were being crazy. After some time, I realised that it is a useful idea as social distancing will be maintained as well as people will get groceries and other essential services."
Some towns such as Panhala, Ajara and a village called Pulachi Shiroli in Kolhapur district have already started implementing the ‘marking method' for social distancing.
An official from the Maharashtra Chief Minister's Office on Wednesday said the government has started pushing the concept by sharing photos of such social distancing practices across the state.
In Kerala, where 105 cases of COVID-19 have been reported so far, a provision store has devised an innovative way to keep customers literally at an arm's length, while serving them.
In an image, which has gone viral on social media, a shopkeeper is seen providing provisions to a woman though a pvc pipe strapped to his table.
The photograph was also tweeted by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor with the caption 'How to maintain physical distance between shopkeeper and customer while buying essential supplies. The Kerala way'.
As part of the social distancing measure, tipplers in the state too were seen standing in queues at least one metre apart in front of the state-run retail outlets to purchase liquor.
Videos and photographs of people standing inside the marked space and waiting for their turn to buy basic supplies in Gujarat and Puducherry were also circulated on social media.
Kiran Bedi, the Lieutenant-Governor of Puducherry, tweeted a photo showing five people standing inside equidistant circles drawn on the road outside a small milk booth with a comment "in Puducherry Milk booth. Social distancing...".
Social distancing was also on full display during a meeting of the Union cabinet, chaired by Modi, on Wednesday where the participants were sitting spread in a room to ensure safe distance between them.
In a photo posted on Twitter, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said social distancing is need of the hour, and asked: 'We are ensuring it… Are you?'
The large oval table that the cabinet usually sits around was gone, and the picture showed that the ministers were facing the prime minister and small side tables were provided next to their chairs to allow them to keep their documents.
While people in many states have opted for ‘marking method' to practice social distancing, the West Bengal government has asked all ration shops owners to draw circles at one-metre gaps outside counters for the customers to stand inside them and ensure that social distancing norm is maintained in view of the highly contagious coronavirus outbreak.
Every customer will have to move ahead to the next circle only after the previous person advances, Food and Civil Supplies Minister Jyotipriyo Mallick said on Wednesday.
The World Health Organisation has recommended that at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance should be maintained between two individuals to avoid getting the infection.
Meanwhile, a group of young men and women have set up a web-based radio station in Kolkata broadcasting home-made entertainment programmes and information on the novel coronavirus outbreak in a bid to interact with others at the time of social distancing.