The coronavirus has changed how we interact and social distancing is our new way of being. Face masks are here to stay, at least until we have a vaccine and herd immunity. With that, the rules of etiquette have changed, and civility and good will have never been more important. As we adjust, let’s show mutual consideration and Practice the Golden Rule: Treat others as you want to be treated.

1. Don’t leave home without a mask.

By now, we should have formed new habits to always have a mask handy to protect ourselves and others when we venture out in public and away from home. But sometimes we forget. Leave a couple of masks in your car, in your pocket or purse, and hang one on your door knob or by your keys to jog your memory.

2. How do you ask someone, especially a stranger, to keep a safe distance?

If someone is too close to you and making you feel uncomfortable, your impulse might be to shout “Get away!”. But it could be that person is not aware how close they are, and raised voices could make them defensive and escalate the problem. Instead, make a polite request showing mutual consideration, for example “Let’s put some space between us while we’re waiting in line.” And of course remember to say those golden words: “Thank you!”.

3. What if you ask someone to keep their distance or to wear a mask and they refuse?

Do what you need to do to protect yourself, and turn away, walk away, or leave until you feel comfortable and safe. Resist the temptation to chastise and don’t engage. It’s not worth a confrontation and you don’t need the stress!

4. What are the rules for dining in a restaurant?

As a general rule you should wear your mask until you are seated, and anytime you leave your seat (a visit to the loo for example). While eating and drinking avoid placing your mask on the table to keep any germs from spreading. Tuck your mask into a purse or a pocket, or on your lap under your napkin. Don’t leave you mask hanging from your ear while you’re eating! Place your mask back on when your waiter comes to serve you. It’s mutual consideration. If your waiter is not wearing a mask you can absolutely and politely ask them to. if they don’t comply, speak to the manager. And mask up again as you leave the restaurant.

5. What if your friends are not taking this seriously?

We do have to navigate new social dilemmas. If you have been invited to socialize but suspect they’re not taking the virus seriously, let them know you wear a mask when around others and ask if they will be socially distancing. Listen to the answers, and decide if you’re comfortable with their plans. Any doubt? Don’t go. Give thanks for the invitation and don’t push to change their plans to fit your comfort level. We all want a healthy society but now is not the time to make assumptions about how others are following personal safety guidelines. You want to still have a friendship post-pandemic!

6. Be compassionate.

You never know what someone else is going through, especially these days. Treat each other with kindness and understanding regardless where you see them. Maintain a positive outlook. And when you see others wearing face masks and keeping socially distanced, give them a friendly nod or a wave and acknowledge we’ll get through this!