How to say no to social gatherings in a pandemic

Everyone has different comfort levels when it comes to gathering in a pandemic. You might feel uncomfortable hanging out inside, take off your mask or going to a large events, even if restrictions are lifted in your region. This post will help you say no to social gatherings and offer alternatives to still spend time with your loved ones.

It is important to remember how serious the COVID-19 pandemic is. The health orders in your region are implemented by scientists and politicians who are trying their best to keep communities safe. Even if public health restrictions have been lifted, you are still allowed to feel cautious or uncomfortable in certain social situations. When declining an invitation, keep your answer brief and strong. Try offering an alternative and safe way of gathering, such as outside at a distance or through video calls. Remind your friends and family that you still care about them and want to spend time with them, but that you are prioritizing the health of yourself, them, and your community. Here are some responses to common statements people might make when trying to gather in a pandemic:

“We will only have our masks off for a few hours”

Taking your mask off in an indoor or crowded space increases the chance of passing or getting the COVID-19 virus- even if it’s for a small amount of time. Masks are one of the best ways to prevent spread of respiratory droplets. Instead, suggest keeping your mask on or moving the gathering outside at a safe distance.

“We will only be around family”

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 virus can infect anyone. Being close to anyone, even family, increases your chance of getting the COVID-19 virus. Try explaining that you don’t want to risk getting your family sick, especially if you are meeting with older or immunocompromised family members. Suggest a larger family gathering when it is safe to do so. 

“Do you not want to spend time with us?”

Some people might be offended that you don’t want to spend time with them. Explain that you still value the relationship you have, but that you want to follow health orders and put your health first. Remind them that you are still there to support them. Try suggesting a safe alternative, such as an online game or movie night.

It is important to show compassion and understanding during this time. Try to put yourself in another person’s shoes, even though it can be difficult. Make sure you clearly define your boundaries.