What is the etiquette for social distancing outdoors in terms of greeting and meeting during COVID-19?
How can we make the experience of going out to exercise less anxious and more friendly without seeming snooty or overly friendly. Everyone I am about to encounter either walks out into the street to avoid me or ignores me by looking in the opposite direction or at his feet.
–Jason, Providence, RI
Thank you, Jason, for your timely question about outdoor manners and etiquette in the time of COVID-19. Cabin Fever! We’re all eager to get out of the house to walk, run, ride a bike, skateboard or buy groceries. When will this all be over? How do we keep active in a COVID-19 reality–our Pandemic Summer–while the country fortifies itself for the next phases of the pandemic, that will more than likely last until 2021.
Personally, I feel as though my house is on fire and nobody told me to get out. Never in my lifetime, except for 9/11, have manners been more important. There’s nothing new here.
Respecting the space of others, respecting the time others spend helping one with mail, groceries, take out, curbside pickup or placing an order have never been more appreciated. It doesn’t cost you anything to be nice.
With summer in the near horizon, the urge to get out and about will be even greater.
How can we make the whole experience of going out and about less anxious and more friendly when we’re hiding behind masks?
Because even teleworking from home, you’re hiding behind a mask, or for that matter behind a computer screen of cellphone, that’s no justification for rudeness. The customer service on the other end of the phone may be half way across the country, but she or he still has to go home to the same situation of isolation that you may have.
In my children’s high school there is a rule that is honored to this day. When passing someone–anyone–in the corridor, the stairway, the crosswalk, the sidewalk, bike or running trail, great each other. Whether you know them or not. Then keep walking.
Just because you extend a greeting, even though you may not know their name, it doesn’t mean you’re obligated to chat them up. In fact, chatting is hard to do nowadays when you’re six to twelve feet apart. Just a reminder:
- Give right of way. The person on the right has the right of way. It’s right to give right of way to the person on the right. When passing on a sidewalk or steps, the person closest to the street gives the person closest to the building or railing the right of way–even if she or he has to move out onto the street.
- Greet even strangers with one word: Hi, Hello, Hiya! We’re all in this together, whether we like it or not; their life right now probably isn’t any easier than yours whether they’re pushing a stroller, carrying groceries, or skateboarding.
- Patience has never been more of a virtue.Always use please and thank you. To anyone and everyone who assists you in any way — from holding the subway door open to bringing out your curbside grocery order to you.
- Smile to ease their pain and yours — even if they can’t see your smile through your mask.
Masks are symbols as well as shields. They signify civic-mindedness and conscientiousness. In other words, masks get the message out that society is collectively acting against a serious threat. This will be apart of our day to day lives. If most people wear a mask in public, the transmission rate can entirely stop the spread of COVD-19.
My mask protects you;
your mask protects me.
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Accepting A Compliment