- Whether it's requiring friends to take a Covid-19 test or agreeing to wear masks at all times while indoors, people are creating new standards of social etiquette suited for the "new normal" of life with the coronavirus.
As more locations around the U.S. re-open, people are starting plan social events again.
But for some, these gatherings include new precautions to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19.
In Los Angeles, Jay Prasad and his roommate Dennis Yun, who is a physician, recently hosted a Memorial Day barbecue. Before guests could enter, Yun administered a Covid-19 antibody finger-prick test, then made them wait ten minutes for the results. Antibody tests typically register positive if a person has been exposed to the disease, even if they didn't show symptoms.
Prasad and Yun also used an infrared forehead thermometer to check if any guests had a fever, a common symptom of Covid-19. Although no guests tested positive for antibodies or showed signs of a fever, Prasad said he and his roommates were prepared to turn people away if they had.
"That's just the smart thing to do, and I don't think we know anybody who would've objected to it," Prasad said.
Additionally, Prasad handed out face masks from NxtStop, a direct-to-consumer clothing brand that he invested in. Although the barbecue was a mostly outdoor event, guests were asked to wear the masks while inside.
"We got some sense of return to normalcy," Prasad said. "At least this was a path toward how that might happen."
From requiring Covid-19 tests to wearing masks indoors, people are creating new standards of social etiquette suited for the "new normal" of life amid the coronavirus.
To minimize the spread of the disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends staying six feet apart, wearing face coverings, and keeping tissues and hand sanitizers handy whenever people venture outside. The CDC also notes that indoor spaces are riskier than being outdoors, and that spending more time with people who may be infected increases the risk of transmission.
For the Fourth of July, Ivan Malina of Brooklyn is planning a trip with friends to Lake George, New York. The group of 10 is renting a large home where they can keep their distance from one another, and they have all agreed to use masks while inside. Additionally, the group is planning to use disposable plates and utensils throughout the gathering.
Most importantly, everyone has to take a Covid-19 test prior to the trip, Malina said.
"We're going into another community. It would be really bad if we went up there and someone had it and spread it," Malina said. "A lot of stuff with Covid is less about protecting yourself and protecting others."
Malina is asking his friends to take the test within a week before the trip, then refrain from any risky activities where they could become infected before the gathering. If anyone tests positive, Malina said, the group will refund that friend for their portion of the vacation rental.
"This is unprecedented," Malina said. "Paying a little bit more because your friend got sick, I don't think that's going to bother anyone."
In San Francisco, Sara Broyles moved into a new apartment just before the city enacted its shelter-in-place order in March. The lockdown scuttled her plans for a housewarming party.
Recently, she decided to try again. She reached out to her close friends to ask how they would feel about that type of hangout, and collectively, the group decided that they would love to get together -- as long as everyone took a Covid-19 test before the event.
"I do want to make sure that everyone does feel comfortable being in close quarters together," Broyles said. "If we do this the right way, I feel like it will be OK to do."
For Broyles, who had never lived alone before, hosting friends at her place for the first time will be a milestone.
"We've all spoken on the phone and FaceTimed and Zoomed a bunch, and that's all great," she said. "But of course, we miss spending time together."