Last updated: 14/12/20
With so many different coronavirus restrictions in place across different counties in the UK, things can get a little confusing. Even if you can see your mates, or at least the people within your social bubble, you may want to take some extra precautions – just to be safe.
You should always check the government website for direct guidance for your local area and national lockdown guidelines will always override any articles such as this. However, we’re sharing some tips you may find useful to make sure you’re extra vigilant and protect yourself and those around you when you can socialise safely!
Trying to sort a student house for next year? Don’t forget to check out our guide to student house viewings during the pandemic!
Tips to keep everyone safe when meeting up with your uni friends
1) Encourage everyone to wear a mask
Masks have quickly become essential items that you need to have with you wherever you go. Need to go shopping? Need to pop into the pharmacy to pick your prescription up? Waiting in the queue for the gym? You’ll need your mask.
Whilst local guidance may vary and you may think you’re safe because you’re sat a safe distance away from your friends and both feel healthy, you can never guarantee anyone’s safety. Chances are, if you’re seeing mates, you’ll be doing a lot of talking. And the scientists say that masks (that are worn correctly, disposed of safely and used with good hygiene) are effective in reducing the spread of viral droplets. And if the scientists say so, who are we to argue?
One study conducted by the University of Edinburgh even showed that wearing a mask (which covers both the nose and mouth effectively) can reduce the forward distance travelled by an outwards breath by more than 90%!
Just take a look at the below infographic from a US medical centre which illustrates how the levels of coronavirus exposure changes the more you follow social distancing and wear a mask.
2) Ask your mates to bring their own mugs/cups
We know that coronavirus can remain and spread on objects and surfaces, therefore when it is safe to socialise, asking everyone to bring their own mugs/cups may be a good shout to make sure you’re limiting the potential spread of the virus in your house! Likewise, if you’re visiting your friend’s place, take your own mug to limit risk.
3) Make the most of good weather if you have a garden
As we head into the colder months of the year, it’s getting more difficult to meet your mates outdoors. But if lockdown is over and a crisp autumn morning does crop up, grab a hoody and a hot drink and keep things outdoors to minimise risk inside your home.
4) Try and keep it to one room
When the inevitable does happen and your plans of an outdoor catch-up are shattered by the typical wet UK weather, you’ll probably be bringing things indoors (based on government guidance, of course!). When you do, try and limit the risk to yourself and your mates by keeping things to one room. This way, it’s manageable to have a quick anti-bac before your mates arrive and after they leave.
5) Really try to keep your distance
Once it’s safe to do so and you’re seeing familiar faces again, it can be all too easy to get a little too relaxed – especially at home. Try and limit the amount of mates you’re seeing depending on the size of the room you’ll be in. This way you can effectively keep a safe distance.
6) Avoid hugs
We know just how tempting it can be to swoop your mate into a bear hug when you’ve not seen them in a while, but it’s so important to make a real effort to keep a distance to limit any risk to both yourself, your mates and those you see on a daily basis.
7) Try and spread out your visits
Whether you’re the host or the guest, when making plans to see your mates try and organise them so there are as few people there as possible. You may need to schedule everyone into your calendar, but if you’re playing host, it’ll give you a chance to clean in between guests!
8) Avoid sharing snacks
As lovely as it always is to arrive at a friend’s place and see they’ve bought your favourite biscuits to share over a cuppa, this may not be the best idea right now. A safer alternative may be to have a ‘bring your own snacks’ rule, or even purchase individually wrapped snacks that can be wiped down prior to opening.
9) Avoid stroking pets
There has been some evidence that pets can act as ‘fomites’ which are infection-carrying surfaces. Therefore, it’s probably best to keep your pet away from your guests and equally, avoid stroking your friends’ pets (as hard as that may be!).
10) Ask your friends if they’ve visited any high risk areas
This may be a difficult one, but it can be a good idea to find out whether your mate has been anywhere that might have put them at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. For example, some of your friends may have different contacts across the UK. They may have to travel for work. They may have visited family in a higher risk county. Or they may have simply been to the gym a lot. Depending on this, you may not be comfortable exposing yourself right now – and this is totally fine.
If you’re not sure how to bring it up, a simple text along the lines of “Hey, before I come over, just wanted to check whether you’ve been anywhere high risk in the last week or so? I have plans to see my parents next week and I don’t want to put them at risk, hope you don’t mind me asking – I’m checking with everyone I have plans to see!” may do the trick.
Staying protected in student accommodation
No matter where you are or what you’re doing at uni, there’s always the risk of losing or damaging your belongings. Student insurance is a great first step towards making sure you’re not left out of pocket and disconnected should you have an unexpected mishap.
To stay up-to-date with the latest student guidance around COVID-19, please visit the government website.