As the lockdown measures are eased across the whole of the UK people are enjoying the opportunity to see friends and family in person for the first time in many weeks. But with the threat of Coronavirus still very much with us many people are wondering how they can socialise while still staying safe.
So we’ve put together a list of some of your most common questions and the answers.
What Are The Rules?
I live in Manchester. Can you tell me what the rules are for meeting up with friends and family. Thank you.
As the lockdown measures are eased incrementally and to varying degrees in different parts of the UK it can be difficult to keep up with the current regulations in your area.
At the time of writing, up to 6 people from different households (people who do not live together) are permitted to gather in parks, gardens and other open spaces provided the core social distancing rules are observed which means that people from different households must remain 2 metres apart.
The rules in England allow individuals to pass through a friend or relative’s house in order to access the back garden but groups cannot gather together indoors under any circumstances (so check the weather).
It is all right to use the toilet at someone else’s house provided you take care when touching surfaces such as door handles and wash your hands thoroughly (which of course you should do anyway!).
How Can I Stay Safe?
I want to get out and meet people again but I don’t want to take any unnecessary risks. What’s the best way to stay safe under the new social distancing measures?
It’s vitally important to carry on doing all the little things that have proved successful in curbing the spread of Coronavirus. This includes staying at least 2 metres from other people, and also being vigilant about hand hygiene.
If you are visiting someone else’s garden bring along some hand sanitiser for use after touching surfaces. Check out the guidance on eating and drinking with others below.
If you are having friends and family round to your garden it’s a good idea to wipe any “touch” surfaces like door handles, bathroom taps, chairs, tables etc both before and after they leave. It’s also good to have some hand sanitizer readily available for the use of your guests.
Can I Hug My Grandchildren?
I have been in isolation for the last two months and I am really looking forward to seeing my grandchildren who have also been isolating, is it safe for me to give them a hug?
After having been apart for so long the urge to hug our friends and family when we see them again might be hard to resist but it’s very important to exercise restraint. Coronavirus is still very much a part of our lives and while a person might look and feel fine they could be carrying the virus and be capable of passing it on to others. Unfortunately this means no hugging or even shaking hands for now.
Should I Bring My Own?
I have been invited around to my friend’s garden for the afternoon, should I bring my own glass in case she offers me something to drink?
With lots of people planning social gatherings and BBQs over the coming months this is a really common question right now. The facts are these – Coronavirus can be passed from surfaces to hands and from hands to mouth, nose or eyes causing infection. There is no evidence that Coronavirus can be caught from consuming food or liquids. If you take a glass, cup or plate from your host you are introducing the possibility of infection. If you bring your own glass, cup or plate and allow your host to pour the liquid directly into your glass/cup or serve the food onto your plate you are eliminating this possibility. The same rules apply to cutlery.
Can we share food?
I am meeting some friends in my local park for a picnic, is it safe to share food?
As mentioned in the previous section there is no evidence coronavirus is spread through food, there is still a risk however of cross-contamination while eating food from a shared bowl or plate. So this is probably not a sensible thing to do right now.
While it might feel less sociable, avoiding shared “grazing” plates is a simple tactic to limit the risk of virus transmission. It might even stop your friends scoffing all the crisps!!(upload://zALp8gnaLrTkjCpTIk33ys3AseU.jpeg)
Similarly, avoid the temptation to clink glasses with your friends. It’s only a small risk but we should take every opportunity to reduce the virus’s chances.
Should I wear a mask?
I am over 70 and in reasonably good health but I still feel a little wary about meeting up with friends, some of whom have serious health conditions. Should I wear a mask?
This is another very common question and it’s something we have written about in detail in other articles which are highlighted below.
In short, a mask is not essential for social gatherings, assuming you maintain a safe distance and wash your hands regularly. Having said that, a mask does provide some additional protection and as such may give you and the people you are meeting some extra reassurance so they can relax and enjoy the experiecne a bit more.
You can find some more information about masks including how and when to wear them here.
Can I take a raincheck?
I really don’t feel comfortable meeting up with people just yet. Am I being silly?
This is another common question and the simple answer is that we should all take things at our own pace and do what feels right. A certain amount of nervousness about going back into social situations is natural. Check out this article about how to overcome your anxieties.
It is very important to factor in your personal health and risk factors in determining how you navigate your newly reinstated freedoms. For example, a 75-year-old with a pre-existing health condition, such as a heart condition or asthma, should still be very careful about limiting their contact with others, as the implications of getting sick are very serious.
Despite the lockdown lifting, we still need to take responsibility for our own health and also be considerate about the health of others. That way we can all start to enjoy one of the most rewarding aspects of humanity: being sociable.