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Scientist wants social distancing rules reviewed

There are calls for a review of social distancing guidelines after a study finds airborne transmission of Covid-19 is more widespread than previously thought.

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A study found airborne transmission of Covid is more widespread than previously thought, but the hospitality industry says that would be disastrous for the sector. Source: 1 NEWS

Social distancing guidelines at the moment state people should stay at least two metres apart with people they don’t know. In “controlled environments” under Alert Level 2, such as in restaurants and gyms, that drops to one metre. 

However, a study from India finds small aerosols containing the virus can travel up to 10 metres.  

University of Auckland aerosol chemist Dr Joel Rindelaub said people can generate thousands of small particles just from talking or breathing. 

“These are where a lot of these aerosol transmission events can happen because these tiny little particles can travel far greater than just two metres,” he told 1 NEWS. 

Rindelaub said face coverings can help reduce aerosol transmission. He also wants the two-metre social distancing rule to be revised. 

Dr Joel Rindelaub, a Research Fellow at the Auckland University’s School of Chemical Sciences. Source: 1 NEWS

“We need to say a minimum of two metres to try and stay as far away from people as possible to help reduce the spread of Covid-19.” 

In July, transmission of the Delta variant of Covid-19 happened in Auckland's Jet Park quarantine facility when room doors were opened simultaneously

But Julie White, CEO of Hospitality NZ, said businesses were already finding the one metre rule under Alert Level 2 tough. 

“You’ve got operators, like bars, who would have to shut up shop. They literally wouldn’t be able to trade," she said.

The Government said it was continuing to receive advice about social distancing guidelines.