Whether you blame the rules, the public, or simply the law of averages, it’s quickly becoming clear we don’t all agree on exactly what social distancing should look like.
For those of us at the more wary end of the spectrum, this can make socialising something of a stress.
Here are a few things you’ll understand if you are the most Covid-cautious in your group…
1. Everyone has different lines
You’re not just an outlier, everyone has their own interpretation of the rules, the realities, and the balance of risk and reward. From elbow bumps and face masks to just how distanced social distancing should be, most people are singing from their own hymn sheets, and there’s not much you can safely assume. Basically, you have to proceed with caution.
2. You can’t always host
When you’re calling the shots – pouring drinks, apportioning crisps, laying up seating plans – it’s relatively simple to stay safe with a little planning and vigilance. But there’s only so many times you can tell someone to come sit in your garden before you have to accept an invitation in return.
We’re not sure we trust their garden, and not just because of their extremely creepy garden gnomes.
3. Hugs are your nightmare
It stings to have to physically reject your nearest and dearest, particularly if they aren’t on the same page. We’re particularly wary of sneak attacks – high-speed hugs from oblivious friends and relations that catch you off guard the moment you arrive.
4. It can be an awkward conversation topic
Spend just a few seconds on Twitter and it becomes abundantly clear that coronavirus has joined politics and religion in the ‘don’t talk about it with the in-laws’ school of public discourse. People can get really stroppy really quickly if you don’t share their viral views, and we have a feeling those recent studies you emailed them are not going to be read.
5. Drunk friends can be a problem
It is a truth universally acknowledged that booze causes evenings to deteriorate, and a few tequila slammers can lead otherwise sensible people to decide that social distancing is over. We’ve all done things we regret while drunk, and we’d rather catching coronavirus didn’t join the list.
6. Rain ruins everything
You’ve plotted the perfect socially distanced afternoon. You’ve booked an unnecessarily large table outside a carefully vetted restaurant, packed your pockets with sanitiser, and parched yourself to limit loo breaks.
Five minutes after you arrive, the skies open, your plan lies in tatters, and that friend utters the inevitable phrase, ‘Shall we go inside?’ Now you know how the organisers at Wimbledon must feel.
7. You have probably been mocked mercilessly
Maybe you hose down your cutlery before each meal; maybe you did your business in the bushes rather than risk an indoor toilet; maybe your mask-visor combo makes you look like Marvin the Paranoid Android. They can laugh as much as they like – from two metres away.
8. Sometimes people take it very personally
‘I’ve been being really careful,’ they say with a tone of sniffy indignation, seconds after telling you that face masks are a tool of the nanny state. Some people really don’t like the implication they might not be right, and the phrase, ‘It’s nothing personal,’ doesn’t always heal the rift.
9. It can be quite frustrating
Whatever lines you’ve decided to draw, you’ve drawn them as much for other people as yourself, and it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that there’s a smidgen of selfishness around when people refuse to respect your boundaries.
10. You are starting to get FOMO
Say what you like about lockdown, at least it was straightforward, as now the Covid-cautious must battle FOMO as well as the pandemic. Your workmates went for post-lockdown dinner, without you; your gym buddies are back on the burn, without you; your school friends went on a group camping holiday, without you.
You’ve made your choices, and you stand by them. That doesn’t make it fun.
Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto