More than two months into the pandemic, many of us are trying to find a way to navigate our new normal in a safe, sustainable way. Quarantine fatigue is very real. Even normally cautious people are struggling with taking the proper precautions, simply because of how long this has been going on.
As time goes on, it’s important we have ways in which to socialise with friends and family that will still keep everyone safe. This necessity is complicated by the fact that although many states are opening up again, the dangers that prompted their shutdown in the first place are still very present.
When it comes to safely socialising with friends and family, here are a few guidelines to keep in mind as you plan your next meet-up.
The same rules still apply
All of the rules—keeping six feet of distance, washing your hands frequently, avoiding as many surfaces as possible and wearing a mask whenever possible—still apply. There are still a lot of cases of the virus out there, and we still aren’t testing as much as we should be. It’s also a really good idea to keep an eye on what the situation is like within your community. If you live in a hotspot, or an area with a recent uptick in cases, then you need to be extra cautious.
Outdoors is generally better than indoors
Meeting in an outdoor location—at a park or in a backyard—is generally safer than meeting indoors, as the open air offers more of an opportunity to maintain six feet of distance, less of a chance of encountering contaminated surfaces and better air circulation. Being in an enclosed space means breathing everyone else’s contaminated air, which heightens the risk of infection.
The longer you’re together, the greater the chances of exposure
Generally speaking, the longer you are in a potentially contaminated environment, the higher your chance of getting infected. Recently, Erin Bromage, an immunologist at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, summed up this risk with the following equation: “Successful Infection = Exposure to Virus x Time.”
You’ll want to restrict the length of any and all of your meetups, as the longer you are together with those not in your household, the more likely you are to receive an infectious dose of the virus, whether it’s from touching a contaminated surface or becoming lax about maintaining six feet of distance.
Be careful of what you touch
Any time you touch a surface that others might have touched—a door handle, counter top, a light switch, you name it—it increases your risk of infection. For that reason, it’s important to think through each meeting with the goal of reducing the potential you or those you’re meeting with will need to touch a lot of the same surfaces. And for the surfaces you do come into contact with, it’s important to have hand sanitiser available.
We all miss our friends and family. Long-term isolation just isn’t practical, and it certainly isn’t good for our emotional well-being. However, we are still living through a pandemic. A lot of new cases—and thousands of deaths—are still being reported every day, which means we still need to exercise caution when it comes to socialising with the people we miss. Think carefully about how you can meet in a safe way, and then enjoy the sight of their faces again.