How Do I Re-Enter the COVID-19 World?
Creating a plan as the world begins to open up.
Posted May 27, 2020
As the number of cases of COVID-19 starts to level off, our world will begin to slowly re-open. For many, this is a huge relief, as it offers the opportunity to come in contact with real people in real-time rather than a video in which your friend or family member’s voice, words, and facial expressions that are not in sync. It provides a glimpse of the normality of our lives as we knew them pre-pandemic.
Quarantine has been this funny time where, although we were forced to shut down, we were also forced to slow down our life’s rat race that was leading to nowhere and fast. For some, quarantine has given us a chance to connect with our families, to play board games, to take walks and bike rides. It has given us time to declutter or finally get to work on that project or projects in our home. It has given us a chance to find books again. A chance to cook and find our love of creating meals for our families. A chance to re-connect via phone or video with family and friends because life was just "too busy."
In the silence of the quarantine, some of us found solace and comfort in the quiet.
For many, quarantine has increased feelings of anxiety and fear about contracting the virus, family members becoming ill, and controlling the spread of the virus. Many have chosen to completely isolate, not leaving their homes for any reason; groceries and needed items are delivered only. However, complete isolation and withdrawal from interacting with others perpetuates that anxiety and fear, as well (Harper, Schatell, Fido, & Latzman, 2020. It’s a double-edged sword.
Now that we are slowly opening up our doors, for some, this is an equally scary time, if not scarier, than when we first went into quarantine to slow down the spread of the virus back in March. Many people are uncertain about how to re-integrate or if they want their families to re-integrate until the coronavirus numbers decline significantly or when there is a vaccine created.
Make a Decision for You and Your Family
At this point in time, there is no right or wrong answer. There is only what you feel comfortable doing with your family. You can choose to continue to isolate and connect with others via video or you can choose to come in contact with others via 6 feet of social distance. If you or your children have an immune compromising condition and you feel more comfortable continuing isolation, that is your choice.
Bottom line: Decide on a stance and carry on.
Continue Your Self-Protection Efforts
For many, this is a time when it’s not clear what we should continue to do to protect ourselves. Should we continue to disinfect our mail, our groceries, our delivered packages? Should we continue to avoid going into stores? Should we visit our older parents and family members?
The answer is: Continue to do what makes you feel comfortable and safe. There is no need to change your efforts entirely or let go of what you have been doing. The world is going to continue to open up, but it is entirely up to you how you would like to re-incorporate. There is no pressure to begin doing something differently or to discontinue your efforts. Fortunately or unfortunately, there are no strict guidelines about how we should proceed at this point, so use your best judgment.
Proceed with Caution and Set Clear Guidelines
As the world begins to open up, try something out that is important to you, such as coming together with another family with social distance. Set some guidelines with the other family and with your own family about the duration of the interaction, where you will meet up, what each family is responsible for bringing (e.g., chairs, snacks, drinks) and how you will handle the bathroom breaks. If you feel that you and your family can handle it, then try it again. If you’re not comfortable, then wait a little bit longer. There is no clear-cut answer on what is going to work for you and your family, so trial and error might be how you roll for now.
Harper, C. A., Satchell, L.P., Fido, D., & Latzman, R.D. (2020). Functional Fear Predicts Public Health Compliance in COVID-19 Pandemic. International Journal of Mental Health Addiction, 1-14.