MIT social distancing study finds 'there really isn't much of a benefit to the 6-foot-rule' indoors


A pair of professors from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say indoor social distancing guidelines are unnecessary and not based on science, after finding that it makes virtually no difference whether folks are 6 or 60 feet apart when it comes to the spread of COVID-19.

What are the details?

MIT professors Martin Bazant and John W.M. Bush have published a study arguing that “the current revival of the American economy is being predicated on social distancing, specifically the Six-Foot Rule, a guideline that offers little protection from pathogen-bearing aerosol droplets sufficiently small to be continuously mixed through an indoor space.”

They found, in short, as CNBC explains, that “the risk of being exposed to Covid-19 indoors is as great at 60 feet as it is at 6 feet — even when wearing a mask.”

“We argue there really isn’t much of a benefit to the 6-foot rule, especially when people are wearing masks,” Bazant told the outlet. “It really has no physical basis because the air a person is breathing while wearing a mask tends to rise and comes down elsewhere in the room so you’re more exposed to the average background than you are to a person at a distance.”

“What our analysis continues to show is that many spaces that have been shut down in fact don’t need to be,” he continued. “Often times the space is large enough, the ventilation is good enough, the amount of time people spend together is such that those spaces can be safely operated even at full capacity and the scientific support for reduced capacity in those spaces is really not very good.”

He argued that the mandates implemented across the nation during the pandemic that have shuttered businesses and schools have been unnecessary.

“This emphasis on distancing has been really misplaced from the very beginning,” he said. “The CDC or WHO have never really provided justification for it, they’ve just said this is what you must do and the only justification I’m aware of, is based on studies of coughs and sneezes, where they look at the largest particles that might sediment onto the floor and