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How Can You Nicely Ask People to Observe Social Distancing?

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 16: People keep their distance as they wait their turn in a queue to access a Lidl supermarket at the Sant Antoni green market on March 16, 2020 in Barcelona, Spain. Supermarkets have applied stronger social distancing rules to access to their shops on the first labour day of the state of emergency. As part of the measures against the virus expansion the Government has declared a 15-day state of emergency. The Government of Spain has strengthened up its quarantine rules, shutting all commercial activities except for pharmacies, food shops, gas stations, tobacco stores and news kiosks in a bid to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, as well as transport. Spaniards must stay home except to go to work but working from home is recommended, going to buy basic things such as food or pharmacy products is allowed but it must be done individually. The number of people confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Spain has increased to at least 8,744, with the latest death toll reaching 297, according to the country’s Health Ministry (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Social distancing still might not come easily to everyone. When you see someone getting closer, the Los Angeles Times suggests these polite ways to ensure people keep a safe physical distance.

  • Focus on being friendly. Rather than being confrontational, you might say something like “I’m sorry, I’m trying to stay six feet away, Can you step back a bit?”
  • Borrow authority. Tell them the store you’re in wants you to stay apart or that the CDC wants you be a certain distance away.
  • Give others the benefit of the doubt. Don’t assume they know how far away they should be. Be as gracious as possible.
  • Be the one to move. If you can be the one to get out of the way, do so.
  • Model good behavior. Show people that you’re willing to be considerate of their space too.

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