• LTA Staff

New Atlanta company gives people visual cues on social distancing comfort level during COVID-19

Safe Hands was designed to show other people how comfortable someone is with interaction during the pandemic.

ATLANTA — Do you feel safe being around other people - or do you want a little more space? 

Have you felt uncomfortable approaching someone you don't know because you don't know how much space they want during the COVID-19 pandemic? 

A new company called Safe Hands just launched locally, and it's working to try and make those interactions less stressful as we all get back to work and school.

People know what to do in the grocery store now. 

"You see the lines on the floor, people are doing the same thing," explained David Burrell, the CEO of Wick.

But as people returned to work, school and houses of worship, Burrell said people felt unsure about how to approach people. 

"They were confused about what to do, they were uncomfortable with how to interact with other people," he said. 

Wick, a research firm, found that people wanted more guidance about how close they could get to people - how to be respectful but still engage with others. That's where the idea for Safe Hands came from. 

"You don't have to have a conversation about it, you don't have to get in to your philosophy about it. It just allows people to show empathy and respect for another person's preference in that moment," he said. 

They designed wrist bands, face masks and badges showing people exactly what level they're comfortable interacting at - green, blue or orange. Burrell said they tried green, yellow and red at first, but he said people didn't like feeling like they were giving orders. 

"This is very complicated and very personal. And what we realized is people didn't like the idea of commands. This isn't respect my space, stop. Or I'm good to go and give you high 5's and hugs," he said. 

People wearing green are signaling that they're comfortable in public. Blue means "I'm OK, but I still want you to give me space." Orange is the highest level of care. 

"If you are personally at risk, but you still need to go to work, if your son has asthma and you're much more worried about contracting something and bringing it home," he explained. 

Burrell said this gives companies, schools and houses of worship clear visual cues about what people feel comfortable with - outside all the guidance they're already following from the CDC. 

"Despite all of that effort, there are just still so many situations every day and in every environment, where six feet, perfect sanitation, [personal protective equipment] is just not happening. So, those moments are creating a lot of fear and discomfort," he said. 

Burrell said Safe Hands has already rolled out in some businesses here in metro Atlanta - and people who use it report feeling a lot more confident in their day-to-day interactions because they know where everyone stands without having to get in to a long drawn-out conversation about COVID-19. 

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