Tips for Dealing with People Ignoring COVID-19 Safety Precautions


Following proper COVID-19 safety precautions is so important, but does it sometimes feel as though not everyone is following the same rules? The experts suggest how to handle when someone is not distancing, not wearing a mask correctly, or possibly putting themself and others in danger.

Have you had the urge to call someone out for not making safe coronavirus choices? Possibly, the fellow shopper who has their mask around their neck, the friend posting photos on social media hanging out with a group of people not safely distancing, or a co-worker or loved one who is dismissive the possible dangers of the virus? Real SImple's Catherine Newman shares tips, advice, etiquette suggests on how to best handle these stressful, awkward, and possiblly harmful interactions.

More: Why Getting a Flu Shot Is Important during COVID

Stay in Your Lane and Determine Which Battles You Want to Fight

She says while you might be inclined to call out people having a conversation in close proximity without masks or judge the friends from different households who seem to be spending time indoors together, Catherine stresses it is best to "conserve our energy" and focus on the interactions and moments that impact our own lives and not other people's choices.

Remind Yourself You Have Options about Your Safety and Comfort

Have you been at a store where proper mask-wearing (if your nose is sticking out, you're not wearing the face mask properly!) is not happening? She suggests instead of confronting a stranger, remember you can speak to an employee about it or you can leave the store. This approach will minimize your risk of having an incident with a stranger -- who might not see your point of view on the matter. Or for example, if you find yourself at a group outdoor gathering where social distancing is lacking, she suggests telling the host or organizer, "I know we’re all so crazy excited to see each other again, but I’m worried about the lack of social distancing. Would you be willing to make a gentle announcement reminding everyone to take a step back and put their masks back on?" She also notes you can leave the event if you feel uncomfortable. "As is true in the rest of our lives, all we can control is our own behavior," Catherine says.

Quick Judgement Is Not Going Help

Before making a snap judgment about why someone might not be following proper COVID safety precautions, she urges everyone to remember, "This person is a person, like me... we are literally in this together -- sharing this space," she says, noting there could be a slew of reasons why someone is not taking the precautions you are.

Establish Your Boundaries and Stick to Them

If you are in an awkward situation, Catherine says to ask yourself, "How do I feel? What do I need? What do I want?" which she feels will help you determine how to proceed. If a friend asks you to come over for an indoor visit, but you feel uncomfortable with the idea, then ask yourself: How do I feel? (Uncomfortable), What do I need? (To feel safe) What do I want? (To see my friend safely) This process can help you determine your needs and then you can suggest to an outdoor visit or a distanced walk instead of an indoor visit.

More: Do Not Use These Dangerous Hand Sanitizers!

Learn Your Lines and Have Them Ready to Diffuse

If you have to speak up, she suggests some friendly words and phrases that can help you establish safe boundaries, like:

  • “We’re standing pretty close. Should we step apart a little bit?”
  • “Research is suggesting that the mask needs to be pulled up over your nose to keep us all safe.”
  • “Oops! I can see your nose!”
  • “Better safe than sorry, right?”
  • “I don’t want us to get each other sick.”
  • “I’m COVID cautious. Would you mind backing up a little?”
  • “I’m practicing social distancing.”
  • “Thank you so much for figuring this out with me. I really appreciate it.”

The Doctors remind everyone that being direct while also being polite and respectful will go a long when it comes to these sometimes tense and awkward moments.

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