How to Stay Safe When Your Roommates Aren’t Social Distancing

When it comes to COVID-19 safety, not everyone is on the same page about taking the necessary precautions. You could even be dealing with this concern at home if your roommate disagrees with wearing face masks, social distancing, or not inviting guests over. If you’re facing this roommate challenge, here are some tips on how to protect yourself from COVID-19 when the people you live with aren’t taking the virus seriously.

Stay Safe When Your Roommates Aren't Social Distancing

Set your boundaries

If you live with people who downplay the severity of COVID-19, setting boundaries is essential for your mental and physical well-being. Set your personal boundaries for discussing the novel coronavirus and limit your physical proximity with anyone — even a roommate — who does not believe they can contract the virus. Respectfully voice your expectations when necessary, even if your roommate might get confused or upset. 

If your roommate doesn’t wear a mask in public, consider telling them that if they refuse to wear a mask, you will only communicate with them through virtual calls — even though you two live together. Similarly, if you live with family members who don’t want to wear masks in public, tell them you will respectfully keep your distance from them to avoid getting sick.

Avoid conflict and criticism

Communicate your concern without criticism if you choose to share COVID-19 information with your roommate, or calmly discuss safety measures. Some people are resistant to change, so use your best judgment when you believe they don’t want to talk about the pandemic. If you are not comfortable with how your family or roommates are dealing with safety precautions, it’s best to respectfully decline to spend time with them until case rates in your area are especially low.

Practice good hygiene

Cleanliness is crucial during a pandemic. Remember to wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. Disinfect surfaces regularly and clean your room. It’s especially important to shower and wash your hair when you’re sharing a living space with someone who doesn’t disinfect surfaces often. Avoid letting dirty dishes pile up, and clean your laundry as necessary. If your roommate persists on not practicing good hygiene, it’s best not to borrow or use their items.

Openly communicate about guests and health risks

Have a conversation with your housemate about limiting the number of guests invited to your home. You and your roommates should have a conversation about which guests, if any, will be allowed in your apartment. You may want to limit your guests to only your significant others, a small number of friends, or no guests at all until it feels safe enough to have guests over. As you determine your guest policy, keep in mind that COVID-19 can circulate more easily indoors than outdoors, even over distances longer than six feet. If guests are invited, make sure to address any concerns with your roommate immediately.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, boundaries and open communication are crucial. Living with a roommate can pose some challenges during this time. When issues arise, don’t be afraid to voice your concerns before there is a bigger problem. If your roommate refuses to adhere to safety measures, listen to them before getting upset. You and your roommate may disagree about which precautions to take, but with open and respectful communication, you can plan what works best for both of you.

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