Shane Fitzsimmons blasts common Covid advice: 'I don't support it'

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NSW Commissioner of Resilience Shane Fitzsimmons has slammed the term "social distancing", saying "physical distancing" is a more accurate phrase to use.

"I don't support the phrase social distancing," he said on Thursday. "As a matter of fact, what we're talking about is physical distancing."

Health advice recommends practicing social distancing, which means keeping a distance of 1.5 metres between people to limit person-to-person contact and help reduce the spread of Covid-19.

Mr Fitzsimmons said he appreciates that people still need to be socially connected during this time, but need to do so virtually, as to not spread Covid-19.

Resilience NSW Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons during a NSW press conference on August 19, 2021.
Resilience NSW Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons says he doesn't like the term 'social distancing'. Source: AAP Image

"Now in these tough times more than ever we need to be socially connected, we need to be reaching out, checking in on one another, making sure that we are looking after our own welfare and those of a loved ones and families are networks.

"We need to maintain a physical distance. We need to stay at home. We need to follow the rules."

Mr Fitzsimmons also highlighted the “extraordinary partnerships” made across government, emergency services, community partners, and local members to provide assistance where it's required.

"In the last few weeks, the last couple of months, something like 6100 tons of food products and hampers, personal care packs, the basic things around sanitary products and those sorts of things, are being distributed to those that need it most," he said.

Praised for his 'clear communication'

Mr Fitzsimmons, who was previously Commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service, was named NSW Australian of the Year in 2020 after his work during the devastating 2019/2020 bushfires.

He was praised by Twitter users for his "clear" communication at the press conference, some people saying he's the "only honest face" in a crisis.

"Shane Fitzsimmons is what these pressers needed," one user wrote. "A true communicator." 

"Thank goodness we have an articulate, sincere grown up at Gladys’s press conference," agreed another.

"Thank you so much Shane Fitzsimmons. You put the rest of them to shame."

Why is physical distancing important?

It's recommended that people keep a physical distance between each other to avoid the spread of Covid-19. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urged people urged to practice social distancing and/or wear masks if maintaining a distance of 6 feet (1.5 metres) or more is not possible.

According to the CDC, Covid-19 is spread mainly through person-to-person contact. It’s believed that people who are in close contact are most likely to spread it. It spreads through respiratory droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

NSW sets grim new Covid record – again

NSW recorded 681 new cases of Covid-19 on Thursday, setting a new record.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian extended the lockdown in regional NSW, which was originally set to end on Sunday.

Ms Berejiklian also said the state must accept that people will have to learn to live with the virus.

"We can't pretend that we will have zero cases around Australia with Delta. As the Doherty report says, once you get to 80 per cent double dose, you have to open up, everyone will have to learn to live with Delta," she said.

"In New South Wales, we are learning that earlier than others."

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