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Post-Confinement Etiquette

BWB gets acquainted with the new etiquette of life during and after COVID-19.

Slowly but surely, the world around us is gently coming out of its quarantine slumber as more and more people get vaccinated. The air is warmer, the trees are greener, and people are braving the outdoors for summer. But the return to normalcy will be a gradual process, with new social habits enforcing post-confinement etiquette. Now, we have a new lens and a new responsibility to return to public spaces with newfound compassion and respect. We have obligations not only to our own health, but also to the community around us. Here is BWB’s new, unspoken etiquette for five primary facets of our day-to-day lives.

Public Transportation

  • If you’re leaving the house, a mask is still a necessary accessory. If you are vaccinated, the CDC recommends you continue to wear a mask in indoor areas, but you can lower or remove it when outdoors.
  • Keep hand sanitizer readily available to apply before and after boarding trains, riding Citi Bikes, or taking a taxi.
  • Allow extra travel time in case trains are overcrowded. Wait for the next train in order to have more distance between yourself and others.

Office

  • Upon arrival, wash your hands thoroughly with soap before doing anything else. This is for yourself, but also to reassure your coworkers that their well-being is important to you.
  • If you have an in-person meeting, your greeting of choice depends on your comfort level. If you are both fully vaccinated, you can consider trading in your elbow bump for a handshake.
  • Always have alcohol wipes nearby to wipe down frequently touched surfaces. We’re talking keyboards, computer mouses, printer screens, counters, etc.!
  • If you need to sneeze or cough, wash your hands afterwards as another mark of respect for your coworkers.

Exercise

  • If you are using any gym equipment, you should diligently wipe it down with alcohol wipes before and after using it. Most gyms will have these available, but you can always bring your own!
  • It may not be pleasant to wear a mask while doing cardio like jogging or cycling, but it is still recommended. During intensive exercise, you may exhale more droplets than normal. So, covering your mouth is generally beneficial for everyone’s well-being when you consider other viral infections and colds. As the summer progresses, mask mandates will certainly change. When the CDC lifts the indoor mask mandate, you can make this decision according to your personal comfort level. Mask wearing will certainly persist for many people after their vaccination.
  • Now is the perfect time to invest in your own equipment instead of using communal ones offered by a studio. Think: yoga mat, boxing gloves, cycling shoes, etc. It’s one less thing to worry about.

Social Events

  • When you are ready to be in public spaces with strangers, it is handy to keep your mask on you even if outdoors.
  • Be mindful of those who are still anxious about people walking or standing too close to them. If you are outdoors, you can use social distancing as your sole method if you have been vaccinated. If you are indoors, it is recommended to maintain social distancing and to wear your mask.
  • Try to pay with card whenever possible to avoid touching cash.
  • When hanging out with friends, it is important to know their vaccination status. If you are all vaccinated, how you greet one another or spend time with one another is incumbent on your personal comfort level.

Home

  • Like arriving at the office, it is always best to wash your hands as soon as you get home.
  • Continue to wipe down and disinfect those knobs — along with your refrigerator, cabinets, kitchen table and counters. This is a good practice all year round to keep you from getting sick in general.
  • Consider changing your clothes after getting home, especially if you have just taken public transport. 
  • Keep up with rinsing your produce thoroughly. These are constantly being touched by other people at the grocery stores and farmer’s markets. In addition, this is just another thing you should be doing all the time due to potential pesticides.
  • Maintain an open and honest dialogue with your roommates or anyone you share a home with. Even as the CDC changes guidelines and your city lifts mandates, some people will take longer to adjust. In fact, some people may like to continue some of their quarantine habits. Be kind, respectful and gentle with anyone who may be experiencing any lingering COVID anxiety.

Whether you’re itching to dine at a restaurant again or to go on vacation, it’s important to keep the big picture in mind. Every action we take moving forward will still continue to have repercussions on public health. Getting vaccinated is just the first step of adjusting to the new normal. Maintaining public health after such a huge crisis requires a collective effort from everyone, so don’t forget the etiquette you adapted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Feature Image Credit: Steven Shaffer

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