Reading the expert advice on social distancing is pretty grim. No handshaking. No stopping to talk to people on the street. More house cleaning than most of us have done in our lives. The toughest one will surely be not visiting friends and family, even in small groups, to prevent more than good food and conversation from being spread among visitors.
How will our relationships cope?
I had a little experience with love at a distance when I spent about 16 months in a long-distance relationship. We couldn't have been further apart really, me being in Sydney and my partner being in Quebec, Canada. We met in a pub when I was studying abroad and we got way more serious in eight months than either of us was expecting. When I had to come home to finish my studies we decided to try to make it work, despite being literally on opposite sides of the globe.
It was heartbreakingly sad but we did our best to keep the little spark of our relationship burning and even growing despite the distance and vastly different time zones. A relationship sustained through phone calls, messaging apps and postcards was difficult, but it made us stronger in the long run.
I'm not an expert in relationships by any means but I feel the experience of living so far from someone I love taught me some practical lessons that can be used in this unfolding pandemic.
Surviving a long-distance relationship requires both parties to stay busy, putting one foot in front of the other until the day you meet again.
Firstly, talk every day with the people you love. Texting is ok but talking is better. While people under 30 might not realise their phone has a function where you can dial a number and call anyone you like, this is how we're going to be able to keep our friendships going when we can't catch up over lattes at the little cafe down the street or chat before and after parkrun on Saturday morning.
There was barely a day when my partner and I were apart that we didn't talk on the phone. We got to know each other so deeply through this, from sharing the mundane aspects of life to sharing our values and beliefs. Perhaps more relationships could benefit from hours of talking in those early days.
Secondly, carry on your routine as normally as possible. Surviving a long-distance relationship requires both parties to stay busy, putting one foot in front of the other until the day you meet again. It also means finding creative ways to do things you would usually do together. We'd both log onto Netflix and watch the same show while texting back and forth.
Try having a movie night with your friends: make some popcorn and get some banter going. In lieu of morning coffee breaks at the office, I'm trying to call my closest work friend each day so we keep in touch. All the little daily things help.
Thirdly, milestones, like birthdays and holidays, are more important when you're apart, so celebrate them with kind words, gifts and virtual celebrations. On Valentine's Day we would cook the same meal and sit down to a Skype date with a glass of bubbles - it's surprisingly romantic.
For Christians (and chocolate lovers) Easter is coming up. How will you celebrate? Our birthdays will still roll around, lockdown or not, so let's make them fun. Host a virtual party by eating snacks and dancing in your living room. During this pandemic, these are the moments when we'll be missing our old lives the most so it's important we put some effort into making them special.
Fourthly, take care of yourself so you can be in a good place to support others. When I got on that plane and said goodbye to my partner, I was starting a new, separate-but-together life that took a lot of getting used to. After my tears dried, I wrote a list of things that would soothe my soul: making a cup of tea, going for a swim, baking and craft. Temporarily lifting my mood really helped to overcome the feeling of loneliness.
Make your own list of 'healthy treats' for those moments when you're feeling lonely. It could be walking around the block, watching funny cat videos or taking a long bath. Fill up your bucket so you can help others fill theirs.
Lastly, know that this will all come to an end some day. A long-distance relationship is much more palatable when you know there is an end in sight. While we don't have a solid idea of when the lockdown measures will be lifted, we do know it won't be forever.
Make it a priority to reach out to all your friends and offer them support. I've already had old friends get in touch proposing virtual drinks and catch ups. In a strange way, this experience is giving everyone a chance to step away from the 'busyness' of work and outside commitments and rethink what's really important in the grand scheme of things.
When we get out of this someday, hopefully we'll have an even stronger support network waiting to celebrate.
We have removed our paywall from our stories about the coronavirus. This is a rapidly changing situation and we want to make sure our readers are as informed as possible. If you're looking to stay up to date on COVID-19, you can also sign up for our twice-daily digest here. If you would like to support our journalists you can subscribe here.