The unofficial start to summer has begun and people are emerging gingerly from their Covid-free lairs like bears from hibernation. And after months living in quarantine without pants or haircuts, the question on all of our minds as we contemplate going out in public is, how is this supposed to work?
Here are some useful etiquette tips to help you open up this summer.
There seems to be so much controversy over wearing masks outdoors. What are some of the do’s and don'ts?
It is summer. You want to look your best. Don’t go out in public wearing a wrinkled mask with food stains. For women, a low-riding or see through mask that reveals underwear is a fashion no no. And while bare skin is acceptable, strapless masks aren’t a great idea these days. Men should never, ever wear a mask with sandals and white socks.
Unless you want a raccoon mouth tan line, do wear plenty of sunscreen on your exposed face.
I am desperate to dine out again. I haven’t been to a restaurant in months. What should I do to stay safe?
Eating al fresco at Chez Covid is not easy. Here is my advice. Take your mask off between bites and fold it in your lap. Do not tuck it in your shirt. Spray your silverware with hand sanitizer between bites. Start with the utensils on the outside and work your way in. Keep your elbows off the table. If you are over 65 consider ordering from the kids menu. Leave a large tip. Bon appetit!
Some neighborhood kids are gathering in backyards and playing catch without masks. Is it more appropriate to call the police or shame their parents on social media?
Before you do anything, raise your right gloved hand and repeat after me: “I, (your name) , do solemnly swear that I will faithfully and impartially uphold the duties of my office as Social Distance Vigilante to the best of my abilities, so help me Dr. Fauci”.
You can now impose your own justice. Just be sure to identify yourself first. A lot of people will want to know who you are. And by the way, my kids were all six feet apart.
How do I cough into my sleeve if I am wearing a short sleeve shirt?
There is nothing worse than strolling the boulevard on a nice summer evening with snot on your elbow. Despite the name, hand sanitizer can be used on your limbs too. I always keep a bottle in my pocket, along with a razor in case I need to shave my arms.
How can I avoid all of those obnoxious runners who huff and puff down the middle of the road without covering their faces?
You might try running faster.
I know it is no longer cool to shake hands or hug, so what is the proper way to greet someone I haven’t seen in a while.
When I meet an old acquaintance, I always start with something simple, like “Hello”. “Hi” also works well, as does, “is that a bottle of hand sanitizer in your pocket?” If you really feel uncomfortable, place your hand behind your back and explain apologetically, “I would shake your hand, but it is behind my back right now” or “I lost it in a meat grinder.” From my experience, people are perfectly happy when I don’t touch them.
Is it true that the president doesn’t wear a mask in public because it makes him look silly?
Do you mean the president with the knee length ties and orange skin? I wouldn’t know.
If someone walks the wrong way down clearly marked aisles at the store, is it appropriate to say something?
Yes. It is perfectly reasonable to point out the arrows on the floor and ask the offender if he or she can please walk backward as the arrow indicates. I do it all the time. Walk backwards down the aisle that is. It is much easier to shop that way.
Is it considered bad manners to borrow someone’s hand sanitizer?
While I wouldn’t borrow someone’s mask, borrowing hand sanitizer is not unacceptable. To maintain distance, ask the person to wash their hands and toss you the bottle. After you spray your hands you should spray the bottle before you toss it back because you have already touched it. To do this you will need to borrow a bottle from someone else and repeat the process. This may take a while, so be patient.
Now that small gatherings are permissible, I want to invite some friends over to sit in the yard and socialize. Should I ask them to quarantine fourteen days first?
Not if you want them to come over. Taking their temperature, asking to see test results, and signing waivers is off putting as well. At some point, you have to trust the people you know and care about. And also trust that the people you know and care about trust you.
See you around.