21 Apr 2020

The etiquette of outdoors

Between the ongoing restrictions on our time outdoors, and the need to maintain social distance, your daily exercise or trips to the supermarket might lead you to feel anxious and uncertain. This, in turn, can mean that normal levels of courtesy and consideration are neglected.

So what's the new etiquette for venturing outside? Here’s our advice for keeping calm and courteous, whether you’re shopping, exercising, or out and about in public:

  • Make way for others: confused about who has right of way? Avoid the game of chicken before one of you eventually steps into the road by being the first to move aside (assuming no oncoming traffic, of course). Particular consideration should be shown to wheelchair users, the elderly or infirm, and those with buggies or small children.
  • Exercise (with) caution: if you’re out jogging or cycling, it will be harder for others to get out of your way in time. The onus is on you to ensure you’re allowing them enough space. Alternatively, save your exercise hour for the early morning or evening when it’s likely to be quieter.
  • Say thank you: our instinct is to feel slighted if someone avoids us, but at the moment it’s the polite thing to do, so thank anyone who gets out of your way. Similarly, remember to thank shop staff and delivery drivers. Now, more than ever, they deserve our gratitude.
  • Be patient: many shops, post offices and supermarkets are running a limited service, and queueing is therefore inevitable. Be patient and channel your inner calm: getting frustrated will only exacerbate the tension. Don’t be tempted to queue-jump or move forward prematurely, and don’t reach in front of someone for an item: wait for them to finish browsing first.
  • Smile: it’s an anxious time, and as we all become less accustomed to venturing outside, we might feel inclined to avoid eye contact and stare at the pavement. Spread a little positivity by smiling (or, if you’re wearing a mask, nodding hello) to those you pass – from a suitably safe distance, of course.


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