Grocery store shelves are wiped out, sports seasons are being postponed, and social distancing practices are being advised in the midst of global efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic. While some people are on high alert about the virus, others are looking for ways to make light of the situation by taking advantage of cheap airfare for getaways and flexible work schedules. People are being advised to stay home, and while that may be easier for some, there are a lot of people who are finding it hard to refrain from normal social practices, and dating is a big one.

So how does a person date during a pandemic? The easiest answer to that question would be to avoid doing it at all, but no matter what is going on in the world, humans are social individuals that require human interaction. When the news and health officials advise “social distancing,” all that makes people want to do is to get closer, and they are.

For those who find it hard to pause their dating lives in the midst of the virus, there are a few things to keep in mind when dating during a pandemic.

Assess our own personal risk.

Before making the decision to go out, it’s important to know the facts of the coronavirus, how it spreads, and how it can effect your own personal health. It has been advised that anyone that has been displaying flu-like symptoms should avoid going out at all. If  the body is currently trying to fight off an illness, it is more susceptible to other infections. Also, it’s  important to be mindful of pre-existing health conditions that could cause great harm if exposed to the virus.

Avoid large crowds.

Although this might be easier to do as more people self- quarantine themselves in their homes with heaps of toilet paper, if you find yourself desiring to still go out on a date, try to choose locations with fewer crowds. If that isn’t possible, scheduling dates around times where places aren’t as crowded is highly suggested. The CDC’s (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)  recommendation for “social distancing” is a distance of six feet. This is because within six feet, you are more likely to come in contact with respiratory droplets released from someone that may be carrying the virus. The CDC also discourages events or gatherings of 50 people or more.

Wash your hands and maintain good hygiene practices.

Reducing the spread of the virus starts with basic hygiene practices and some of the simplest things such as covering your mouth with tissue when coughing or sneezing go a long way. Avoid touching your face and disinfect frequently used items like keys or cell phones.

Hand washing has been at the forefront of preventive care for coronavirus. Thorough hand washing should be done before eating, after using restrooms, and after touching potentially contaminated surfaces. Health officials have advised for people to wash hands often for at least 20 seconds to ensure germs aren’t transmitted.  It would also be good practice to carry an alcohol based sanitizer and wipes for convenience while out in public.

Avoid sharing food and drinks.

It’s easy to forget that germs exist when dating but this is not the time to forget that. Not suggesting a date may be carrying anything infectious, but its better to be safe than sorry so avoid sharing all food and drinks. No one should be offended on either ends, in fact it could be viewed as a thoughtful gesture, amid a global pandemic. Germs travel fast, and it’s impossible to know what either person has come in contact with prior to the date, so everyone should try to keep their forks to themselves.

Date from the comforts of your home using technology.

It’s times like these where technological advancements can be appreciated, especially when it comes to dating. The coronavirus quarantine situation isn’t going to last forever, so keep that in mind and schedule some Facetime or Skype dates. You’re able to see and interact with someone without compromising anyone’s health.  Discuss a time with your date to video chat and even get dressed up before the date. Create an ambiance for yourself to make it that much more enjoyable and Voilà, a pandemic approved date.

The most important thing an individual can do before deciding to go out for a date is to stay up to date with current messages from the CDC, as well as local and state health departments. As the situation continues to change, so will the recommended practices. When choosing to plan or go on a date,  it’s important to keep in mind how you can reduce the risk of infection. The measures being advised aren’t the most exciting and can put a damper in scheduled plans, but they are proven to protect your health.

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