Illustration for article titled How to Tell Someone You Still Are Not Comfortable Going to Their Big Event During COVIDPhoto: giuseppelombardo (Shutterstock)

Although it is really difficult to look at a global pandemic to be responsible for it more than 566,000 deaths In the United States alone, there were some aspects of public health interventions that some people found useful in identifying any positive results.

Whether it’s the ability to work remotely or a legitimate excuse not to socialize, there have likely been times when the social distancing requirements and not large gatherings made things a little easier for you did. In fact, they may have got you out of something that you didn’t want to be a part of at all.

Your desire (or lack of) to socialize may still (rightly) be concerned about attending in-person events and how to deal with the invitations that have already been received. Some people in your life are likely to be perfectly understanding.

However, others will back off and explain to you why they believe their event is indeed safe – usually a version of “but it will be outside and everyone will be wearing masks and be very careful.” Good, but also no. Here are some ways to navigate the discussion where you’re declining the invitation.

Yes, we are still 100% in a pandemic

In 2020, people accepted (for the most part) that they didn’t want to spread or infect a deadly virus as a reason for not attending their wedding, graduation, birthday, Thanksgiving dinner, etc. But now that we’re a few months old with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, people seem to think it’s all done and dusted, and we’re clear.

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We won’t go into all of the reasons why this isn’t the case here (not even 25% of the country has already been vaccinated!) but if someone gave you the old “but COVID is basically over and most of the attendees at least got their first dose of the vaccine” don’t be blamed on them accepting the invitation. They don’t “go overboard” or “make too much of it” or oppose the fact that “people have to live their lives” and that “the world has to go back to normal one day”. I just wanted to get that out of the way first.

You might avoid conflict

Telling your cousin that you cannot attend their wedding is difficult on many levels, and for some people this includes fear of conflict situations. in the an article for Well + Good, Mary Grace Garis spoke to the psychologist Dr. Aimee Daramus, who explains that your range for dealing with stress – including the kind that arises from potential conflict – is likely to be quite small right now.

And in addition to wanting to avoid compromising your relationship with your cousin, you may not be in a place where you can deal with other types of risks – as an example of the transmission or infection of a deadly virus. But don’t let the decision be made here either. “While it’s difficult, don’t try to let your friends’ policies or decisions affect your health decisions – unless your friends are experts in viruses or risk management – as a virus is not a popularity contest,” Daramus told Well + Good .

What to say if invitations to events are declined?

According to Diane Gottsman, national etiquette expert and author of Modern etiquette for a better life– who also interviewed Garis for her article – have a tough conversation ASAP (or send the note declining the invitation). And be sure to keep it “short, sweet, and polite”.

Can’t find words? Gottsman provides this sample script This (with some minor language adjustments as needed) could help:

“I wanted to contact you personally and thank you for the invitation. Unfortunately, at this moment I still don’t feel comfortable when I’m traveling or being in crowds. I appreciate your understanding and I want you to know that once the pandemic ends, we will wish you the best of luck and celebrate. “

Ideally, the person will understand – although they may be disappointed. But again, we’re still in a pandemic, so social norms and expectations were out the window before 2020 (which you probably left open for fresh air and ventilation).