The R number describes how quickly the disease spreads, or how many people get infected on average from one COVID-19 positive person.
If R is greater than 1, then the number of newly infected people will continue to increase.
If R is less than 1, the number of newly infected people will decrease.
How to reduce the R number?
The baseline R number for SARS-CoV-2 in a population without any restrictions is around 3. Face masks, social distancing and other quarantine-type measures reduce the R number, which is now around 1.2.
Even though R-value is at 1, there are still a lot of infectious people. If anti-epidemic measures are not followed the virus can get out of control very soon.
The virus spreads at an exponential rate. Exactly what is described in the story of the origin of chess.
What can I do to reduce the R number?
Any value higher than 1 means that we are not yet at the peak of the epidemic because the number of active infections is still rising. Every decimal point counts.
Respecting the current measures against the spread of the disease and following hygiene rules is the most effective weapon any of us have in the fight against any contagious disease.