The last seven months have been characterized by unprecedented levels of uncertainty, especially for those living in residential apartment buildings. Many of us are asking questions like: Do I have to wear a mask when I'm in my elevator? Can I (and should I) have a birthday party at my place this year? What do I do if I get sick and don't have friends or family nearby to help out?
Here are a few simple tips for staying safe amidst the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, while living in a shared building.
Wash Your Hands Frequently
It's a refrain many of us may feel sick of hearing, but public health experts maintain that the simplest, most effective habit to implement in preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus is frequent and thorough handwashing. Make sure to wash your hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds upon entering and before exiting your home.
Twenty seconds is the equivalent of one chorus of Dancing Queen by ABBA, Love on Top by Beyonce, or Lose Yourself by Eminem, so pick a song and get scrubbing! If these tunes don't quite motivate you, head over to "Wash Your Lyrics" to generate a poster with the perfect hand-washing lyrics for you.
Reduce Engagement With Communal Spaces
Living in a shared building makes contact with non-household members somewhat impossible to avoid. Doing laundry, picking up your mail, getting from the lobby door to your couch, and letting in a visiting friend all require you to traverse shared spaces. Do your best to limit the frequency with which you complete these tasks. Instead of checking for mail once a day, shift to once a week. Think you can stretch this week's laundry run a couple more days? Do it! The less journeys you can take, the better.
Elevators are particularly difficult spaces to maintain a two meter distance within. To minimize the risk of close contact, limit elevator capacity to one household at a time. If you see your neighbor hopping in the elevator, wait it out until another comes by; or even better — fight back against quarantine fatigue and take the stairs!
When You Must Go Communal, Do It Safely
Of course, leaving the comfort of one's apartment is an unavoidable reality for many of us. With this in mind, the safest course of action is treating your travels through communal indoor areas as you would a trip to the grocery store.
This means wearing a mask when using communal laundry rooms, picking up the mail, and traversing through the lobby. If you're sick of the masks you bought back in April, try sewing your own using a DIY mask pattern! As always, don't forget to wash your hands before and after venturing out.
Talk To Your Neighbours
Reaching out and communicating with the folks in your building is a great strategy to reduce the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on physical and mental health. Consider devising an action plan with another household nearby in the event that one group has to quarantine. The assurance that there are people nearby who can help you complete basic tasks such as picking up mail or grabbing groceries will bring you peace of mind if you are unable to leave your apartment.
Fundamentally, physical isolation does not have to mean social isolation. Checking up on those around you is a small but invaluable practice in staying connected, during a time which can breed alienation.