Love thy neighbour: How to be a good neighbour during the second wave of the pandemic

In partnership with the Solidarity Fund. 

Here’s how to tell people to stick to the rules without being annoying. Be a good neighbour advising people and not a watchman policing people’s behaviours. 

Find the “sweet spot”. 

Try and find the balance between politeness and public health. If you see or know someone is going to a high-risk area – like an indoor gathering with lots of people or an area which is a hotspot, say something then. Don’t waste energy on low-risk areas – if you see someone having a picnic in an open area and they aren’t wearing masks, don’t make too much of a fuss about it. Unless of course they’re all packed together without any social distancing. 

For high-risk areas, think of what to tell your friends and family in a non-threatening way. Be kind and communicate with them without making anyone feel uncomfortable. Tell them to wear a mask and carry hand sanitiser if they have to go to the high-risk area.

If you can’t get through to a person, then just try to make sure you are following the rules. Don’t go to high-risk areas, wear your mask, carry hand sanitiser, download the COVIDAlertSA safety app.  

Model the desired behaviour

If you can’t get people to change their behaviour, then model the type of behaviour you hope they will replicate. When declining an invitation to a party or gathering, don’t tell them not to have the party. Rather explain why you don’t want to attend – gently and kindly of course. That way it can help lessen their anxiety and ensure you don’t cut relations with friends and family. Maybe give them pointers on how to make their gathering safer if they decide to go ahead with it. 

Don’t shame people. 

It’s been a tough year for everybody and maybe people just need to be with their friends and family. Don’t post pictures of them on social media shaming them for breaking the rules. Find a way to speak to them and show them the damage their actions might be causing without being unkind and hurtful about it. 

It’s the summertime and people want to spend time with their family and friends especially with the difficult year this has been. Maybe tell people to go to open spaces like parks to have a gathering instead of holding it in their houses where there won’t be any ventilation and social distancing. 

Make the message personal so that people resonate. Appealing to people and their care for their loved ones could be the best strategy to protect them.

If people tell you that you’re being unreasonable when insisting on social distancing and mask-wearing etc tell them “You don’t need to agree on all the nuances of what is and isn’t risky, but you do need to respect me.” Just like they don’t appreciate you telling them to wear a mask, they shouldn’t be telling you not to wear a mask and adhere to social distancing. 

Featured image via Wikicommons