• Susie Wilson

Etiquette and Pandemic Politeness

What to do and say to avoid causing offence and how to handle awkward situations.

It’s finally happening weeks after tens of millions of us were told to lock ourselves indoors, countries are starting to slowly relax their lockdowns and allow their citizens to socialise again. Over the past year, getting used to new ways of interacting with other people has spawned a whole new set of rules of engagement. We need to have the conversation on what the new normal looks like so we can live alongside this virus without more lockdowns with kindness and respect for one another.

Even though many of us have spent the last year far apart, this global Covid pandemic we're living through has raised its own set of social distance-related etiquette concerns. From the nuances of written correspondence to propriety around digital video communication, and even pet behaviour in public—changes in how we're used to interacting with other people have created new rules of engagement.

Besides the obvious guidelines—wear a mask; avoid shaking hands; social distancing; avoid gathering in groups; remember that not all disabilities are visible—we wanted to find out from etiquette experts what some non-obvious coronavirus-era etiquette rules they might recommend are.

Ultimately, etiquette during Covid-19 isn’t just about being kind and respectful; it’s also about being considerate of other people’s health and safety by taking appropriate preventive steps, it’s important to not be hypercritical of others and yourself as we are all adapting to this new normal, especially since everyone has varying degrees of precautionary measures when it comes to their health and safety. In the end, the core values of etiquette which are kindness, respect, and courtesy will continue to ring true.

How to turn down in-person invitations.

If your friends insist that they want to get together at a restaurant, let them know you still have anxiety or concerns about gathering in an enclosed space you should express your appreciation for their invitation and suggest they get together without you this time. Let them know that you’ll join them in the future when you feel more at ease about dining in a restaurant.

Text before making a video call

As video calls have increased in popularity during the pandemic, it's always important to consider the feelings of the person on the other end. Text someone and ask for permission before initiating a FaceTime or any other video call.

Top Tips

1 Assume The Best Remember that most people have good intentions, and it’s possible that the person has forgotten or misunderstood the current guidance, or are unable to comply with it.

2 A Polite Decline is Fine

It’s okay to say no and politely decline to do something if you are in a situation where the guidance isn’t being followed.

3 Walk Away (and report if necessary)

If someone refuses to comply it’s ok to walk away from the situation.

4 Plan Ahead

Think about what you can do to reduce the likelihood of having to deal with an awkward situation.