While restaurants slowly reopen across the state in the face of the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC is still asking Americans to wear masks when they leave their homes and to practice physical or social distancing by keeping at least six feet of distance from strangers. And yet, not everyone is listening.
The six-foot guidelines are just that, recommendations, and not strict laws, and since they’re not mandatory people are ignoring them off when in public spaces. A quick bike ride through our local bungalow neighborhoods or a drive by Lake Eola will reveal hundreds of people enjoying the great weather, elbow-to-elbow on the walking paths, sans mask.
According to an Instagram poll we carried out with our Bungalower followers, 20 percent of our readers admitted to not practicing social distancing, whether because they believed their jobs made it impossible to do so or because they didn’t think it was an effective practice.
That varied greatly from our Twitter followers, where just over four percent of those who participated admitted to ignoring the recommended social distancing protocols.
We took the opportunity to reach out to our survey participants directly to ask them why they weren’t following the social distancing guidelines and received a varied array of responses including:
“I’m still going to work and my job doesn’t let me distance. At all.”
“I hate staying inside. I need to go outside to keep from going crazy.”
“It’s all fake. You need to do your research and Google “Plandemic” they just want us to take vaccines and pollute our bodies. It’s all about control.”
“My son misses his daycare friends and i can’t keep him from playing with kids at the playground. he’s been crying every day because he’s lonely.”
Regardless of whether you agree with the explanations, there’s a growing number of Orlandoans who just don’t want to keep their distance or wear a mask in public, and there’s not much we, as individuals can do about it.
The police are not required to enforce social distancing in public spaces and are only enforcing it on private property when a complaint is made, but mainly at local bars and restaurants. That means Orlandoans are being forced to police themselves, but what can you do if you feel like you’re at risk?
- Speak Up – If you feel as if someone is putting you at risk with their behavior, you can ask them – with respect – to give you some space. Being honest and open with someone will go further than accusing them of or pointing a finger. Everyone’s feeling stressed and maybe a little lonely right now so having a little patience can go a long way but asking for space is your right to do. A quick, “Hey, man. I’ a bit stressed about all this stuff. Can we keep a good distance here?” could go a long way. Also, confronting people with anger holds the risk of escalation, and fighting is even riskier than standing near someone in a line.
- Listen – The flip side to speaking up is that you should be listening too. That’s called “communication.” Sometimes we take criticism as an attack or an implication that we are somehow awful in some way. Someone asking you for space doesn’t necessarily translate to “You’re a nasty person,” it could just mean they’re uncomfortable and would love a little grace and some personal space.
- Make Good Choices – You can’t control how other people behave, but you can certainly choose how you do. If the staff at a restaurant isn’t wearing personal protective gear, and you feel unsafe, then go to a business that is taking measures that make you feel more comfortable. Call a restaurant before showing up to find out what sort of procedures they’ve put in place to protect their staff and their guests.
- Not Everything’s About You – Your neighbor having a beer with a friend on their porch doesn’t put you at risk. That anxiety you’re feeling is normal but try to recognize that it’s your lizard brain that’s already on alert freaking out something that’s completely outside of your control. Close your blinds and focus on keeping yourself and your loved ones safe and healthy.
- Say Thank You – Thanking people for keeping their distance and respecting your health reinforces good behavior and it’s easy to do. It’s also polite.
Social distancing isn’t just about following rules and being a goody-goody, it’s about helping yourself and others from catching a life-threatening disease. Not everyone agrees or understands the immediacy of that threat, so that means it’s that much more important to make informed, level-headed decisions that suit your self-interest and the interest of your loved ones.
GOD, GRANT ME THE STRENGTH TO ACCEPT THE THINGS I CANNOT CHANGE, THE COURAGE TO CHANGE THE THINGS I CAN, AND THE WISDOM TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.” – REINHOLD NIEBUHR