Nearly three months into the COVID-19 pandemic, many states have begun to reopen their economies. As restaurants, storefronts, and other businesses return to a semblance of prior functioning, you may feel tempted to start seeing your friends again too. But is it safe to see friends or have visitors to your apartment yet? Or is it safe to visit a friend’s apartment? The answer is yes, it’s safe to see your friends at an apartment, but only if you keep the following rules in mind.
Consider which transportation options make it safe to see friends
Walking, biking, or driving a car instead of taking public transit, a plane, a taxi, or a rideshare may be safer for visiting friends. In shared spaces such as buses and planes, transmission of COVID-19 may be more likely, as social distancing can be hard to maintain and air is shared among total strangers.
Walking or biking allows for significantly more social distancing and minimizes exposure to others, as does driving a car, but only if gas stations and rest stops are limited. Obey basic COVID-19 safety practices if visits to these spaces are necessary, and for car rentals, wipe down any high-touch surfaces before driving.
Face masks can help to make it safe to see friends
Many officials have required that anyone leaving the house wear a face mask to help minimize the spread of COVID-19. In private spaces such as your apartment or a friend’s apartment, you may find this unnecessary. However, as states reopen and COVID-19 remains a potent threat, you may want to wear a face mask and encourage your friends to do the same when visiting each others’ apartments. Face masks can help to make it safe to see friends at an apartment because, in any indoor space, air will be shared between people even if you keep six feet apart at all times.
Maintain social distance when seeing friends at an apartment
Even though you’re indoors and in trusted company, it’s safest to keep six feet of social distancing from your friends no matter what. This way, if one of you is asymptomatic but infected with COVID-19, you can be sure you don’t spread the virus to other people in the room. Face masks may be effective, but not fully preventative, when it comes to COVID-19 transmission, so double down on this safety measure by continuing to observe social distance.
Limit the number of people in an apartment
At the outset of the pandemic, several leading figures issued guidance limiting the number of people allowed at any gathering. However, different authorities gave different maximum numbers. President Trump, for example, discouraged gatherings of more than 10 people, while Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker set the maximum at 25 people. You should thus research guidelines from your local public health department before deciding whether it’s safe to see friends at an apartment.
Disinfect before and after friends visit your apartment
If you have friends over your apartment, you should disinfect before and after their visit. Using proper disinfecting technique is vital for making it safe to see friends at your apartment, as doing so can potentially eliminate COVID-19 from your apartment’s high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, remote controls, and tabletops. Similarly, once your friends leave your apartment, you should disinfect again in case they have unknowingly brought COVID-19 into your space.
Consider seeing friends outside
Going outside means better airflow, which in turn means that the wind is more likely to direct respiratory droplets containing COVID-19 away from you. If your apartment has a backyard, balcony, or other space, consider seeing friends only in these spaces. If neither you nor your friends have outdoor spaces in your apartments, you may be safer seeing each other at a park or other outdoor area instead.
No matter what, never see friends if you’re symptomatic
If you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should not see friends under any circumstances. Even if you’ve already made plans with friends and your symptoms began showing after these plans came together, you should stay home and self-isolate for two weeks, or longer if your symptoms persist afterward. No matter how much you miss seeing your friends, spreading the disease to them is never worth it.