As America continues to fight the coronavirus pandemic, people are being asked to social distance themselves from others. Staying six feet away from other people and only leaving home for essentials or essential work are mandates in many states across the country. Yet in an apartment community, when residents live close to their neighbors, social distancing can feel more difficult. Here are some tips to help encourage social distancing, even for those living or working in an apartment.
Keep Lines of Communication Open
The best way for communities to encourage social distancing among those who call their properties home is with communication. By using newsletters, blogs, or other forms of communication, perhaps like virtual tours, management needs to explain what is happening and what the rules are. The better the connection, the better people will be to follow social distancing best practices. Community members can do the same thing by communicating with management about what social distancing is or is not happening within the community.
Limit Your Use of Shared Spaces
One of the perks of apartment living is the community spaces. Fitness centers, clubhouses, and pools are places where neighbors can congregate and enjoy the wealth of amenities at their disposal. During this time of social distancing, limit your use of these shared spaces. For those areas, like mailboxes, that you must use, try to visit during less busy times of the day, and wait respectfully away from others for your turn to use the space.
Communities can help their residents by placing limits on the use of these shared spaces. Limiting their open hours or reducing occupancy by a certain percent will help residents adhere to social distancing guidelines. Adding hand sanitizer stations to these common areas can help keep people safer.
Workout in Your Apartment
If the fitness center in your apartment community is still open, this may not be the best time to utilize it. Instead, stream a workout you can do in your apartment. With a set of hand weights and a yoga mat, you can get an effective workout at home, and avoid potential contamination from shared workout equipment. Just keep the noise level down, so your neighbors above and below you aren’t disturbed.
Avoid Resident Events
If the apartment community is still hosting resident events, now is not the time to participate.
Most communities have likely canceled these, but any activity that brings a large number of people together in one place is best avoided. Instead, consider hosting virtual events, like book clubs via zoom or movie nights through a social media app, so you can stay connected with your neighbors while sheltering in your apartment.
Pay Your Rent Online
If you’re accustomed to paying your rent in person, now is the time to learn how to pay online. Even mailing in a check increases the risk of exposing someone to the virus. Instead, log in on your computer and pay online, and you can help protect everyone in your community. This also helps you stay safe in your community rather than requiring you to make another trip outside.
Postpone Maintenance Requests When Possible
Yes, on-site maintenance is one of the benefits of living in an apartment, but during social distancing, avoid making maintenance requests unless you have an emergency. If your toilet doesn’t flush, you need to have it repaired, but a slight drip from your sink or a flickering light bulb can wait. Evaluate maintenance needs to see if they are true emergencies. If you do require maintenance, maintain the six-foot distance while the maintenance professional is in your home.
Practice Hand Hygiene
While this tip isn’t for apartment community members alone, the coronavirus pandemic is a time when you need to practice good hand hygiene. Wash your hands regularly and for at least 20 seconds with hot water and soap. Require all members of your home to wash hands when they get home from any time out of the apartment. Wash your hands before eating or handling food or after handling items that come in from outside your apartment. Avoid touching your face as much as possible.
In most cities, outdoor exercise is still encouraged and allowed. If your community has walking paths or is near walkable outdoor areas, go for a walk.
Just be mindful that you maintain that six-foot distance from non-family members while you walk, but don’t be afraid to spend some time outside. While outside, stick to walking paths and avoid high-touch areas, like playgrounds. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel after a bit of fresh air!
Learn a New Skill
All of this time inside your apartment gives you the freedom to explore a new skill. Have you considered starting a container garden on your patio? Give it a try. Do you want to learn a foreign language? Download a language-learning app and get started. Learn to cook a gourmet meal or finally grab some yarn and teach yourself to crochet. The benefit of social distancing and stay-at-home orders is the freedom of time that they give, so make the most out of it.
Check on Your Neighbors
Social distancing doesn’t mean you should completely isolate yourself. Do you know of neighbors in your community that may need a little extra help? Single parents, older adults, or people with health issues may not be able to get to the store as quickly as you can. Reach out to see if you can run errands and drop groceries at their door, or pick up the phone and call your neighbor to see how they’re handling this period of isolation. Similarly, if you hear of a neighbor that comes down with COVID-19, find ways to deliver food and supplies without contact. They’re going to need the help.
Purchase some wrapped snacks that you can deliver to your neighbors’ doors. Create little “I’m thinking of you” gift baskets or bags, and simply knock on the door and leave. These small gestures can brighten the day of your fellow community members, give you something to do while you wait for this time to pass, and help you stay connected when you can’t spend time together face-to-face.
Social distancing may be more challenging in an apartment community, but it is possible. With a little bit of carefulness, you can safely shelter at home and be a good community member, even while you have to social distance yourself from others.