Coronavirus Outbreak: Know The Difference Between Lockdown, Curfew, Isolation, Quarantine And Social Distancing.

Coronavirus Outbreak: Know The Difference Between Lockdown, Curfew, Isolation, Quarantine And Social Distancing.

Coronavirus Outbreak: Know the difference between lockdown, curfew, isolation, quarantine and social distancing

The coronavirus outbreak continues to take an ugly turn in many countries. Several words associated with the efforts to curb the transmission of the disease have come into light. While people are using the terms isolation, quarantine, lockdown and social distancing interchangeably, it is important to understand the difference between the meaning of each.

Social Distancing

Reducing social interactions and gatherings as much as possible

Staying away from concerts, parties, sports events and religious gatherings

Shutting of educational establishments (schools, universities etc), gyms, museums, cultural and social centres, swimming pools and theatres

Meetings, as far as feasible, to be done through video conferences.

Keeping already planned weddings to a limited gathering, postpone all non-essential social and cultural gatherings

Ensuring 6-feet gap when going out to buy groceries or for a walk.

Hygiene and physical distancing has to be maintained. Shaking hands and hugging as a matter of greeting to be avoided.


Staying strictly at home unless there is need to go out for a medical emergency.

Monitoring daily for coronavirus symptoms such as fever, dry cough and shortness of breath.

Washings hands with soap and using sanitizer at regular intervals.

Getting all essential commodities delivered at home while refraining from stepping out.

Staying alone and separated from others in family (specially if you have COVID-19 symptoms).

Measures for quarantine can be enforced by the government so that people don’t have a choice for stepping out as in the case of social distancing.


Isolation is advised for those who experience COVID-19 symptoms. This type of separation from others is more extreme than quarantine.

Those in isolation are usually kept at medical centres and under complete supervision. It may include the following:

Living is a medical centre, hospital or a completely separate area.

Wearing face mask to ensure that others are safe from contamination.

No physical contact with others in family.

Having all surroundings cleaned regularly.

While social distancing needs to be followed by everyone around the world, self-isolation is for those who are showing early symptoms of coronavirus, have come back to a country from a foreign trip or have met someone who has returned from abroad.


A lockdown is an emergency protocol that prevents people from leaving a given area. A full lockdown will mean you must stay where you are and not exit or enter a building or the given area.

This scenario usually allows for essential supplies, grocery stores, pharmacies and banks to continue to serve the people. All non-essential activities remain shut for the entire period.

Lockdown is not someone’s personal choice (as in the case of social distancing) but is usually enforced by the government to contain the spread of the virus by breaking the chain of its transmission.

A lockdown can include the following measures by the authorities:

Suspension of rail, air and bus services along with public transport.

Shutting down restaurants, cinema halls, shopping malls, gyms, swimming pools and markets.

Restrictions on vehicular movement.

During a lockdown, you are allowed to perform essential activities like going picking up groceries and medical supplies, going to doctor or going for a walk provided you maintain social distancing.


A curfew, whose laws differ in every country, means keeping people off the streets for pre-decided hours. Any violations is met with a fine or arrest.

Curfew includes complete closure of
markets, shopping malls, cinema halls and other places of social and cultural gatherings.

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