Dos and Don’ts of etiquette during COVID-19 pandemic

Information about acceptable etiquette during COVID-19 pandemic

Midhat Moini
Ruchi Bhatt wears a mask while at work.
Vinay Panjwani
11 October 2021

To meet or not to meet – it’s the global dilemma in the post COVID-19 era. The pandemic has made deep and lasting alterations in the way we work, socialise, celebrate, mourn, and essentially live. These changes also require a new code, a new set of etiquette, that we must abide by to lead more secure and respectful lives.

This new framework of behaviour has at its core, the idea of respecting others’ space and safety concerns in various social situations. As the world continues to fight the virus, COVID-19 appropriate behaviour – in addition to, of course, vaccination – is a very crucial tool in our march towards our normal lives.

With these goals in sight, we have decided to frame some simple COVID-19 etiquettes for various situations. These etiquettes will invariably evolve with time, but for now, they can serve as a basic dos-and-don’ts starter.

Commuters during COVID-19 outbreak
UNICEF/2021/Panjwani
Commuters during COVID-19 outbreak

Etiquette of gatherings:

  • Do serve food in a place with proper distancing measures. Open lawns and bigger spaces are always safer for gatherings.
  • Do keep some extra masks on hand while hosting/attending a gathering. If you’re the host, ensure that there are proper handwashing stations and an adequate supply of sanitizers placed at the entrance/exit or other prominent places.
  • Do not plan gatherings in small, constricted, or poorly ventilated spaces.
  • Try keeping the number of guests to a minimum and in-sync with the government’s guidelines on COVID-19. Digital/virtual celebrations are ideal and preferable.
  • Do not attend gatherings if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Self-isolate for 14 days before meeting friends and family and inform people you might have come in contact with.
  • Do not pressurise friends or relatives into participating in gatherings or celebrations. If they are not comfortable in attending the gathering, respect their decision.

 Etiquette of greetings:

  • Do let go of your habit of greeting people the way you used to before the pandemic. A handshake, a hug, a kiss, they all come with a considerable amount of risk and unless you live together and are in constant touch, this might be unsafe.
  • Do show your respect and appreciation to people by greeting them with a wave, traditional Namaste or Adaab, or an elbow bump. The lesser the physical contact, the safer it is.
Fashion designer, Komal Gulabani wears a mask at work.
UNICEF/2021/Panjwani
Fashion designer, Komal Gulabani wears a mask at work.

Etiquette around vaccination:

  • Do get yourself fully vaccinated and be honest about your vaccination status.
  • Do not get involved in conversations about the efficacy and safety of various COVID-19 vaccines if you do not have verified information. Stay away from conversations that encourage misinformation and myths. It is also advisable to politely communicate to people the dangers of misinformation.
  • Do not boast about a particular vaccine that you have taken by claiming that it is of better quality than the rest. Understand that all vaccines provide safety against severe infections of COVID-19.

Etiquette of travelling:

  • Do wear your mask properly throughout the travel. Also, you can politely tell a co-passenger to wear a mask if they are not wearing one already.
  • Do not remove your mask in public places to click photographs.
  • Do not indulge in attempting to get unauthorised certificates of "fully vaccinated" in order to travel to places where it is mandatory.

Etiquette for office:

  • Do observe spacing demarcations and maintain a minimum of 6-feet physical distancing.
  • Do wash your hands upon arrival at work and avoid touching your face or mask as much as possible.
  • Do try to limit movement outside assigned work areas to the extent possible.
  • Do keep an object (like a pen) to press buttons, control panels, etc.
  • Do consider communication restraints due to masks, particularly for the hearing impaired or those who rely on lip reading. Use hand gestures if needed.
  • Do avoid using lifts whenever possible. If you must, then do not step in an already packed space. Wait for the number of people to get fewer to ensure proper physical distancing. Do clean personal workspaces before and after work. Clean shared spaces after each use.
  • Do not go to office if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Also, inform your manager.
  • Do not share food items. Avoid having team/group lunch.
  • Do not share personal belongings like phone chargers, stationery, make-up accessories, etc. In case you really have to share, ensure to sanitise the items before and after use.