How the coronavirus has redefined personal space

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As the coronavirus continues to spread, one phrase is being used to combat the pandemic, which can be transferred through close human-to-human contact: social distancing.

As the death toll and the number of those infected increases daily, the rules of personal engagement are being redefined to prevent further infections. That involves the changing of routines and personal habits.

The White House on Monday announced new guidelines urging Americans to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people and to postpone all nonessential travel.

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Staff of "Food and Friends," a food distribution service for people with life-challenging illnesses, practice social distancing by standing a clear distance apart as they listen to District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser speak about the city's response to the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Staff of "Food and Friends," a food distribution service for people with life-challenging illnesses, practice social distancing by standing a clear distance apart as they listen to District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser speak about the city's response to the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Across the world, people are keeping their distance from one another as the COVID-19 prompts people to break old habits. Shoppers in line have been seen standing several feet apart and churches are filled with worshippers sitting in mostly empty pews.

In Italy, the country hardest hit by the virus outside of mainland China, a government decree specified that people stand at least three feet apart from each other. Globally, more than 242,000 people have been sickened and over 9,800 have died, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Aside from potentially contracting the virus or infecting someone else, many are now being shamed for not keeping a safe distance.

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Pastors wearing face masks attend a service at the Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, South Korea. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Pastors wearing face masks attend a service at the Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, South Korea. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Even the smallest of gatherings are enough to spark a backlash. Ryan Winkle, the chairman for Arizona's Asian Chamber of Commerce, was greeted with criticism after making a post on Instagram about a small dinner in Mesa with local business leaders.

“I started getting some messages saying, ‘Hey, why are you trying to spread the virus?’ I was like, ’It’s a small event, and everyone had washed their hands, and they had sanitizer on the tables,’” Winkle said.

Quarantine shaming, the act of calling out those who fail to abide by social distancing rules, is a new reality that didn't exist for most people until several weeks ago.

Residents line outside a supermarket in Manila, Philippines, while the government implements a localized quarantine as a precautionary measure against the spread of the new coronavirus. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Residents line outside a supermarket in Manila, Philippines, while the government implements a localized quarantine as a precautionary measure against the spread of the new coronavirus. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Steve Diehl, who works at a warehouse in Chicago, wears a mask to work and posted a sign asking co-workers to wear one as well. Several didn't and one even coughed by his desk and touched some of his things.

“That angered me greatly,” said Diehl. “And when I made a comment about it, they shrugged it off.”

Spring break revelers party on the beach on Tuesday in Pompano Beach, Fla. As a response to the coronavirus pandemic, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered all bars be shut down for 30 days beginning at 5 p.m. and many Florida beaches are turning away spring break crowds urging them to engage in social distancing. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Spring break revelers party on the beach on Tuesday in Pompano Beach, Fla. As a response to the coronavirus pandemic, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered all bars be shut down for 30 days beginning at 5 p.m. and many Florida beaches are turning away spring break crowds urging them to engage in social distancing. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Paula Flakser was angered when hundreds of people from Los Angeles flocked to her hometown to vacation after schools had shut down. She lost her bartending job at California’s Mammoth Mountain when the ski resort closed this week.

“When people from urban areas are escaping, they’re escaping to vulnerable areas that have incredibly limited medical resources — and it felt pretty entitled and selfish,” she told the Associated Press.

"Spring breakers" who downplay the effects of the virus are being criticized for partying in Florida after videos of their nonchalant attitude went viral this week.

Reporters and members of the General Assembly practice social distancing during a news conference at the South Carolina Statehouse in Columbia, S.C., on Thursday. The Legislature passed $45 million in emergency money for state health officials to fight the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

Reporters and members of the General Assembly practice social distancing during a news conference at the South Carolina Statehouse in Columbia, S.C., on Thursday. The Legislature passed $45 million in emergency money for state health officials to fight the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

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Many view social distancing as an effective tool for people who must venture outside. In situations where social distancing is difficult, like taking public transportation or while in small spaces, experts urge the practice of adhering to personal space as much as possible.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.