How To Safely Take Elevators And Be In Other Confined Spaces During A Pandemic

Maija Kappler
People stand on designated areas to ensure social distancing inside an elevator at a shopping mall in Surabaya, Indonesia. This is actually closer contact than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends.

We all know we should be practicing social distancing as much as possible to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. But in a lot of cases, avoiding all contact isn’t realistic: people still need to buy groceries, go to laundromats, visit doctors’ offices, and use other essential services. People working necessary jobs that require their physical presence still have to go into work.

So, how can people stay as safe as possible when they encounter people, particularly in confined spaces like elevators? 

Avoid elevators with more than two other people

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the transmission of coronavirus is likely between people who are in within about two metres (or six feet) of each other.

Elevator sizes vary, but most don’t allow more than two or three people to maintain that distance from one another.

Give yourself extra time in case you have to take the stairs or wait for a less-crowded elevator

If you have the option, avoiding the elevator completely and taking the stairs is a good bet because it lets you avoid crowded spaces completely. But if not, wait until a less busy car comes by.

If you’re in an elevator with two other people and someone else tries to get on, calmly explain that they should wait for the next one. Be polite but firm, and try saying something along the lines of, “Sorry, we can’t safely fit more than three people in here. Do you mind waiting for the next one?”

Keep in mind that because fewer people can pile into an elevator these days, it will likely take you longer to get to where you’re going. So if possible, try to budget extra time into your schedule.

Stand two metres apart, and face away from each other

Once you’re in an elevator, maintain distance from the people around you. Some areas have started designating spaces in elevators.

A woman stands in an elevator with markers on the floor for social distancing measures in a shopping mall in Bangkok on March 20. 

While the directive to  have everyone face away from one another is a good one, the six spaces in the elevator pictured above don’t appear to be big...

Continue reading on HuffPost