Social distancing protocols encourage people to avoid crowds, such as those at concerts and sporting events.

As COVID-19 continues to spread across the world, it quickly became evident that the public would have to take drastic measures to slow the transmission. In addition to practicing generalized sanitation and good hygiene, people in some of the hardest-hit clusters were advised to take additional, more aggressive measures. Quarantines and travel restrictions were implemented, and the term “social distancing” became a buzzword.

Social distancing involves people keeping a physical distance from each other during disease outbreaks in order to slow transmission rates. Social distancing also is employed to lessen the impact of the disease on the medical care system, which quickly can become overwhelmed with a high number of cases presenting in a short period of time. In best-case scenarios, social distancing also may enable a few people to avoid infection until a vaccine is available.

So how can people socially distance themselves? Here are some of the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and other leading health groups.

Opt out of group events. Steer clear of events, whether meetings, sports games, conferences, and other gatherings where large amounts of people congregate together.

Stick to non-contact greetings. Avoid hugs, kisses and handshakes. Substitute a smile, a wave or a bumping of elbows, instead.

Practice remote learning. With public schools shut down until at least April 30, take advantage of the resources offered online. Fill the vacant time created while school is not in session by reading or watching educational programs on television.

Work from home. Many companies are now equipped to allow employees to work from home all the time or a portion of the time. Businesses can encourage employees to stay home and utilize the internet to get their work done.

Alter shopping schedules. With reduced shopping hours, try to visit stores during non-peak hours in the day when they are less likely to be crowded. With many stores offering early morning hours set aside or senior citizens and those with underlying medical conditions that make the coronavirus and even bigger threat, others should avoid early morning shopping trips during this time.

Common sense is key to stall disease transmission, and social distancing is a critical public health measure. The single most important thing people can do to help at this time and the quickest way for life to return to a time where gathering in public is not a potentially life-threatening activity can be summed up in two words: Stay home.

Remember: if the virus has no new host to infect, it will die out.