Re-emerging and Social Etiquette in a Post COVID Vaccine World


With the vaccination rates and public consumption of the data available, many people are determining their social etiquette post covid vaccine and their level of comfort re-entering the world. In some ways this feels like Brood X emerging, and can lead to lots of social awkwardness. Before March 2020, family calendars were packed with sports, classmate birthdays, trips to see family, vacations, and outings at local museums and restaurants. Now, families with young children are constantly re-evaluating their comfort level based on their own needs and data. During this awkward time, it’s important to communicate from a place of kindness and lead the conversation with grace. Here are some etiquette suggestions as we navigate the anxiety of finding our new normal.

Social Etiquette after Covid Vaccine

Get consent: To hug or not to hug?

Social Etiquette Post Covid Vaccine

One of the best tips I have heard on hugging is to say what the other person may be thinking. Depending on your comfort level, you can approach a friend or loved one like this: “I am vaccinated and ready to hug, but it is OK if you are not ready to hug.” This comes from a place of consent first, and respect for boundaries. We also spoke with the maven of manners from Tea with Mrs. B, a special event tea room with manners and etiquette training in the City of Falls Church.  Mrs. B suggests, “Utilizing friendly body language to communicate this as well – like blowing a kiss, using a curtsy, or waving right out of the gate so there are no questions.

Etiquette for planning your first party

Social Etiquette Post Covid VaccineWhen you are planning your first party and gathering, tell guests exactly how many you expect to attend. Consider keeping shared food platters and beverage pitchers to a minimum. This will signal to your guests that you have been thoughtful about keeping everyone safe.  Only ask guests to attend if they have been vaccinated. You want to be respectful of your guest’s personal health information, but if they have willingly shared it with you, then they are likely fine with you sharing it with the other attendees.

Identify whether the event will be indoors and whether there will be a dedicated space outdoors.  If you are hosting outside but the only restroom option is inside, be sure to communicate that in advance. Some people are comfortable going to an event hosted entirely outdoors but do not feel comfortable going indoors. They’ll need to plan ahead if that is the case. Leave an option for guests to wear a mask or not. Alternatively, if you host at a business venue they should be able to provide a list of precautions they have taken.

Attending a party with young children

Ask clarifying questions that are kind and patient to the host, always coming from a place that aims to honor what serves your family’s health needs.  You can say, “I am still nervous; I am being cautious,” speaking from a space of emotion vs. judgment.  Then you can clarify any open questions to prepare your family.

How to handle when you are not comfortable at a party

Opt-out of political debates regarding the pandemic. Instead, focus on how you feel. You could say, “Thank you so much for inviting me; it felt great to have a social event on my calendar again. I thought that I was ready, but it turns out I may not be ready after all.  I want to connect again at another point, let’s find a time that works best for us soon!” We all need to be gracious with one another as we navigate this new norm of social etiquette post covid vaccine world.

How to thoughtfully & respectfully decline

Follow-up with the host in a timely manner and let them know you are unable to attend. Let them know directly that you are not comfortable yet. Be open and honest, but focus on your emotions rather than judgments. Wrap up the response with a positive and uplifting remark about their event, celebration, or milestone and keep an opportunity open to connect in the future.

For 15+ months, many of us have adapted to the simplicity of spending our weekends at home, bonding with our families outdoors, and solely focusing on the present moments.  Remember you can always respectfully decline an event and reserve blocks of time to focus on self-care, your spouse, and quality time with family.

A word of advice from an etiquette expert

In speaking with Jacqueline Frederick-Maturo, a local DC ‘Hostess with the Mostess,’ “The golden rule of hosting is to make everyone feel comfortable, and that includes the varying comfort levels around socializing during this ongoing pandemic. The more you can communicate to your guests in advance as to what they can expect, the more likely they will arrive feeling comfortable and welcome. That will lead to less social awkwardness as well as there will be less anxiety around what to expect.”

What tips do you have for returning to more normal activity?