Social Etiquette After the COVID-19 Pandemic
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Published on July 06, 2021

waiter serving family in restaurant

Social Etiquette After the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic changed our lives and even our behavior.

Since the COVID-19 and its Delta variant are again altering our lives, you might find yourself wondering how to navigate social situations again.

“Every person processed COVID-19 in their own way, so your best foot forward is to approach situations understanding your needs and expecting that others will have their own needs and perceptions as well,” said Judy Lamphron, Infection Control Manager at Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center.

“What all people might have in common now is a new awareness about how our everyday interactions might lead to sickness,” Lamphron said.

People became more aware of their handwashing habits. For example, do you always wash your hands before eating? Do you wash or sanitize your hands after touching a common surface — like a door handle — or after being out in public?

One of Lamphron’s recommendations is to lay aside a bullish attitude. An aggressive, self-righteous approach will not only damage a relationship, it will most likely not result in what you want either.

“Remember, in most cases, the way something is said is more offensive than the actual request,” said Lamphron. “Most people are pretty reasonable if you politely make it clear you’re taking extra precautions."

Getting vaccinated is the best way to stay safe, no matter the case rate or precautions.

Use These Tips for Navigating a Post-COVID-19 World

Ask. There’s no harm on inquiring about people’s comfort levels in certain situations. “Would it be OK if I take my mask off?”, “Is it OK if we sit next to you?”, or “Hi. I heard you were ill recently. Are you feeling completely better before I come over?”

Give a reason. If you’d like someone to wear a mask during an encounter, give a reason. For example, explain you’re trying to be careful because your cancer is in remission and that you’d like to wear masks during an upcoming encounter.

Modify your behavior first. These days, not everyone is wearing a mask anymore, but some people choose to take extra steps to remain safe. If this describes you, wearing a mask and a friendly “hello” without a handshake indicate your wishes. Your guest may ask how they could make you feel comfortable, such as wearing a mask, too, or sitting a distance away if they don’t have a mask on hand.

Understand the environment. As mask requirements are lifting in public settings, it’s understandable that individuals are no longer wearing them. If this makes you uncomfortable, continue to use curbside options until you’re ready.

“We are living in a time when people are more cognizant about their fellow human beings,” said Lamphron. “Approach situations with compassion and remain positive because we are all going in the right direction — just at different speeds.”

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