Wearing a mask in public may be the new normal, but it can sure lead to a variety of awkward moments — for instance, how to get across, say, that that mask needs to go over your nose, too?
And while science shows that masks are one very important tool in the fight against COVID-19, let's just say the social norms involved are still … evolving. To help sort through some typical rough spots, we tapped etiquette experts for advice.
Situation #1: You're the host
Whether it's a wedding for 30 guests or a backyard barbecue, the best move is to establish the rules of the road ahead of time. That means, when you're inviting guests, spell out your expectations for when and where masks should be worn (think: On arrival, but not when seated outside? Throughout the event without exceptions? For any inside visits only?).
Granted, you'll have to deal with the responses — which recent hosts we interviewed described as everything from “surprisingly confrontational” (when asking a guest to put on her mask when heading inside to the bathroom) to “a conversation that happened naturally” (while arranging dinner on the porch for close friends).
Jessie Newburn, 57, says that she was surprised at the categorial “no” she received from a friend she'd asked to wear a mask to an outdoor get-together. Working around her friend's refusal, Newburn suggested they instead meet up in a park where they could catch up comfortably, 6 feet apart. The friend showed up — wearing a mask.
In your role as host, etiquette experts say, it's also your job to make sure your guests follow the rules during any event. If they don't, you should remind them to do so, without assuming the worst (that they don't care about your or others’ well-being).