Here we go again, third time lucky. After months of being cooped up inside over a cold, hard winter, we’re finally being granted some small freedoms as lockdown restrictions start to lift and our social lives creak back into action.
Since March 29, we’ve been able to meet with more than one other person outside. The ‘stay at home’ rule has also been lifted, meaning people are no longer explicitly being told to stick to their local area.
Although we’re being asked to minimise travel and overnight stays are still not allowed, with the Easter four-day weekend upon us and children breaking for the school holidays, more of us will inevitably be out and about again.
Cue confusion as we attempt to balance our newfound freedoms with basic common decency. Months of social isolation may have turned us into chaotic monsters, but pandemic or no pandemic, there’s no excuse for being a dick about things. So here’s a brief etiquette guide for all that Easter easing.
Stay home if you’re showing any signs of Covid
This one should go without saying. If you think there’s a chance you might have the coronavirus, act like you do and self-isolate. If you think you’ve already had it, be mindful that you may still be contagious or not immune to getting it again. Symptoms are varied and not limited to coughs and fevers – here are some of the signs to keep in mind.
Stop with the social media shaming
We don’t blame people for wanting to make the most of the sunshine and the change in rules. Posting that crowded park pic or snarky comment online doesn’t help anyone, especially when people are following the rules. We’re allowed to soak up some much-needed Vitamin D now. That’s the point.
Of course, shaming others can come from a place of anxiety, so it’s good to remember that outdoor gatherings actually have a very low transmission factor. According to Professor Paul Hunter from the Norwich School of Medicine, University of East Anglia, “there was also no obvious outbreak associated with the very crowded beaches that we saw last spring and summer.”
That doesn’t mean such transmission is impossible but Hunter reassures that “it will be unlikely to play an important role in the spread of the epidemic.”
Keep the hugs at bay, even in a beer jacket
Humans are social animals, we’re hard-wired to crave touch and interaction, so it’s only natural we’re excited to reunite with people we haven’t seen in weeks, months – or even a year.
If you have friends and family that are touchy-feely when you’re not quite there yet, there are ways to turn down a hug without it being awkward. And if you’re the hug monster yourself, it’s important to be respectful of other people’s boundaries and not shame anyone who is still keeping their distance or playing by the rules. Everyone’s at different stages with this and that’s okay.
Know your own limits
Best not overdo it when it comes to the booze, yeah? Sure, we all have a lot of catching up to do and many missed celebrations to mark, but start off the bat with one heavy sesh and you’re more likely to break the restrictions that are still in place, get yourself into trouble, or simply embarrass yourself.
No one wants a repeat of what happened in Nottingham Park and London Fields respectively, where rowdy scenes led to alcohol sales being temporarily banned to stop the spread of Covid-19. It’s a park, not a festival site.
Don’t use the park or beach as your toilet
If you need to go to the toilet, remember your mum’s advice and go before you leave or, if you’re caught short, scope out the public toilets you can use. Here’s a list of all of the UK’s loos that have mercifully stayed open, even in lockdown.
Peeing in a park not only damages flora and fauna, but urine toxically pollutes the water table below the ground, which has knock-on effects for wildlife, rivers and streams. And we don’t have to tell you that pooping in the bushes or sand dunes isn’t cool either – especially if dogs or kids end up walking through it.
Take your rubbish with you
Do your bit for the planet and keep public spaces clean so everyone can enjoy. Don’t litter, put your rubbish in the bins and if they’re already overflowing, take your rubbish home with you. Go that extra mile and even bring home your cans for your own recycling bin. Also, pet owners take note: clean up after your dog and don’t leave their mess for someone else to deal with it.
Do barbecue wisely
While ongoing restrictions mean Easter barbecues, whatever the weather, are now the most normal thing in the world, check your local park or beach has a designated barbecue area – and use it. Avoid disposable barbecues where possible – and take care to avoid the risk of grass fires and scorch damage. No one wants a burnt sausage with a side of firefighters coming to your rescue.