We all must continue to do our part to help limit the spread of the virus as COVID-19 is still among us. In addition to social distance, while in a public environment, we wear face masks. Your face mask helps keep you from transmitting the infection to others unintentionally if you are sick and don’t know it yet.
Think of your cloth face mask during this pandemic as part of the current social contract between you and everyone else around you. But, you still have some technical issues after wearing your cloth face mask for a couple of months now.
Situation #1: You’re the host
The best step is to determine the rules of the road ahead of time, whether it’s a wedding for 30 guests or a backyard barbecue. That means spelling out your standards about when and where masks should be worn when you welcome visitors.
Of course, you will have to deal with the responses which were described by recent hosts we interviewed as everything from “surprisingly confrontational” (when asking a guest to put on her mask when going inside the bathroom) to “a conversation that simply happened” (when planning dinner for close friends on the porch).
Jessie Newburn, 57, says she was stunned at the “no” category she got from a friend she had asked to wear a mask for an outdoor get-together. Working around her mate’s refusal, Newburn proposed they meet up in a park instead, where they could catch up easily, 6 feet apart. A mate, wearing a mask, turned up.
It’s also your duty to make sure your guests obey the rules at every event in your role as host, etiquette experts say. You should ask them to do so if they don’t, without thinking the worst (that they don’t care for the well-being of you or others).
Situation #2: You’re a guest
If your host doesn’t raise the mask-wearing topic until you arrive, then broach the subject yourself by all means. If you’re not happy with what you hear, begin with a friendly one, “I really appreciate the invitation.” “But for now, I’m sticking close to home.” “You’re going to feel better about yourself for not compromising your own limits,” says Gottsman.
You should inquire at the moment if you forget to ask. At a recent backyard dinner with relatives, Michael Durand, 73, and his wife, Marlene Zarfes, 64, New Rochelle, New York, wore masks. But after they settled outdoors in their chairs, comfortably 6 feet from the other pair, Durand asked if anyone would mind if he removed the covering of his face. His hosts gave him their blessing and, though seated, the party remained without masks.
“I would have agreed if they said we wanted to keep our masks on,” he says. “The key here is to be respectful of the interests of all and value science.”
So what if you come to a party where others don’t comply with the rules given? Your next move depends on how familiar you are with it. It’s all right to explicitly approach people you know well, politely pointing out their lack of a mask. Take the host aside for guests you have only just met and ask for support. But if at some point you don’t feel secure, “It’s totally okay to leave,” says Daniel Post Senning, an Emily Post Institute etiquette expert.
As for your goodbyes, keep them brief and, Senning says, to the point. “As in the following:” Thanks for getting us. We quit a little early because we take masks guidelines for social distancing very seriously.
Situation #3: You’re dealing with strangers
When you’re out and about in public and problems arise, the laws are different. While it might be your first instinct to speak up, experts say don’t participate. You don’t know how strangers will react to anything like a request to actually put on the mask around their neck.
What is more, speaking up is not necessarily your duty, Senning says. “You have to take responsibility for what you can control,” he says, “and your own actions, not others’ behavior, is the thing you have the most responsibility for.”
Situation # 4: You’re at work
Speaking up on the job depends on whose actions you’re worried about. But before you say anything to anyone, be clear about the policy requiring masks in your workplace.
From there, you can specifically ask him or her to obey the rules and put one on if a colleague isn’t wearing a mask in an environment where one is mandated. You will need to be more careful about your language about your boss, though, says Jessica Lieffring, an etiquette specialist and founder of The Friendly Society consultancy and training company.
Lieffring suggests saying something that highlights the reason for your concern, such as, “I would just feel more secure if you were wearing a mask.” If I catch this virus and need to be extra cautious, I’m at a higher risk of getting complications. If you’re uncomfortable doing so, you might also ask for assistance with the human resources department’s situation.
Masks may not shield you, but when social distancing is not possible, they protect other people. The virus spreads by coughing, sneezing, or communicating predominantly by respiratory droplets. When you decide to wear a mask, that means you are doing a generous public service.
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Louie is the father behind the travel blog Browseeverywhere.com. He has a background in photography, E-commerce, and writing product reviews online at ConsumerReviews24. Traveling full time with his family was his ultimate past-time. If he’s not typing at his laptop, you can probably find him watching movies.