The Importance of Social Distancing

Crowd at airport garage

Normally large gatherings of people — such as the families who greet returning missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — need to adapt to the social distancing guidelines to limit exposure to COVID-19.

An unplanned gathering in the parking garage at Salt Lake City International Airport happened as 1,600 missionaries arrived on flights chartered by church officials on Sunday. Despite directions by airport officials for one person to greet each missionary as they were announced, hundreds ended up crowding in the greeting area of the garage. The gathering prompted  reminders about the importance of social distancing from Gov. Gary Herbert, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, and U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney.

While this gathering drew widespread attention, it underscored an ongoing problem in Utah and the country generally. Photos showing crowded beaches and lines for bars in areas where virus numbers are climbing or places that already have restrictions in place are all over social media. 

As cases begin to climb more rapidly in Utah, the single most important thing everyone can do is social distancing. By remaining at least 6 feet away from other people, the spread of the virus can be slowed. For anybody over the age of 60 or with underlying health conditions, it’s best to simply stay away from other people. If you are sick, stay home.

It’s understandable to want to greet returning missionaries at any time, and even more so during this stressful time. It’s equally understandable to want to gather with other people in social settings. But that moment of joy is not only dangerous to you, it’s dangerous for everyone.

So please, maintain your space.