Submitted by the Whatcom County Health Department

With summer here, and more businesses and activities open again in Phase 2, many of us are excited about getting out of the house to reconnect with friends and family. But there’s still a risk of giving or getting COVID-19. If someone invites you to a gathering, or even just a casual neighborhood walk or backyard get-together, you should ask if they’ve been following the guidance around COVID-19.  It may be an awkward conversation, but we’ve got tips to make it easier. Your health and the health of those around you is worth it. 

Keep it casual

By now, many people have already had these conversations, but they can still feel uncomfortable. Keep a casual script in mind when talking to a friend or family member about getting together. 

  • Say something like, “Thanks so much for the invite! I’d love to get together. I just want to make sure we’re on the same page about COVID. I’ve been wearing a mask anytime I’m in public and haven’t been in close contact with many people, have you?”
  • Inquire about who will be at the gathering and safety measures the host has in place. Will the gathering be held outside? Will utensils be shared? How many people will be in attendance, and does their space allow for adequate physical distancing from one another? 
  • Have you already been around five people in the past week? Let your friend know. Say, “You know, I’ve already been in close contact with my share of people, can we be in each other’s five next week?”

Plan ahead

It’s good to have these conversations early. That way you can encourage your hosts (or guests) to be more cautious in the week or two leading up to the visit. Tell them you’re being extra careful because you don’t want to pass an infection on to someone more vulnerable who could become seriously ill. And let them know you would appreciate them doing all they can to make sure it’s a safe space before you attend.

COVID-19 and Dating

Dating during the COVID-19 pandemic is tough. Although restaurants and shops are beginning to reopen, and spending time with small groups of people you don’t live with is ok, it’s still important to talk about safety and risk reduction. Having a “virtual date” with a video chat app can be a very safe way to spend a little time with someone before meeting in person face to face.

If you do decide to meet up with someone, keep it casual. Meet in an outdoor setting, and talk about how you can recognize one another with masks on beforehand. 

Strike a balance

These aren’t easy conversations. Keep the tone gentle even when it feels uncomfortable. Scolding or lecturing isn’t a helpful technique, especially in a public setting. Be a role model with your actions and words. 

If you’re on the receiving end of the conversation, try to remember that in the end we all have loved ones that we’re trying to protect. Let’s do it together.

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