New rules for our new normal
While lockdown may have lifted in your area, the risk of COVID-19 remains as cases rise throughout the country. At the same time, many of us are weary of months of social distancing and eager to socialise with loved ones and friends, but the changing nature of the disease makes it difficult to determine how best to proceed. “We’re being bombarded with new information daily, sometimes hourly, about what to do,” says Sharon Schweitzer, an etiquette expert. “The scientific community is giving us information that a lot of times conflicts with what our community leaders and our political leaders are telling us to do.”
So, how can you maintain etiquette, which is all about making the other person feel comfortable, during these unprecedented times? “Good etiquette really is how you make other people feel,” says Lisa Mirza Grotts, an etiquette expert known as the Golden Rules Gal. “Right now, all that’s taken a back seat to health and safety and how we make people comfortable given our health situation.” Here are some guidelines to help you navigate socialising during this time.
Understand that not everyone is ready to socialise
Everyone’s comfort level is different right now. “You may have to tell your friends: ‘You know what? I’m not in a position where I’m ready to visit with anyone yet,’” Schweitzer says. Or you may be comfortable socialising as long as others follow the recommendations of public health officials to wear masks, wash hands often, and socially distance. Just be forewarned that if your friends are a little more lackadaisical about what officials recommend to minimise the transmission of the virus, that could potentially create awkwardness and even outright conflict, Schweitzer notes. If you do choose to get together, avoid these coronavirus mistakes that are all too easy to make this summer.
Keep your social cohort small
If you start to socialise, keep your group small—and not just for a particular gathering. It’s safer to see the same friends; it’s riskier to join different groups for meals every other night. “The key is moderation when engaging in social contact and managing the risk,” Schweitzer says.
Grotts says she and her husband have limited their social circle to people they were travelling with in December and January, before the situation developed into a pandemic. “The comfort level varies for everyone,” she says. “It’s impossible to social distance around a big group of people, it really is. Start small. But you should never put anyone at risk. If you’re a risk, then shrink your bubble to just you or you and your spouse. You have to protect yourself and others at all times.”