All across the country, local and state officials have eased mask mandates and lifted restrictions, and most states have gone back to business as usual. The New York Times projects that nearly the entire country will be open with few restrictions by the Fourth of July. Fully vaccinated individuals are enjoying reuniting with family and friends, going to restaurants and getting back to their old routines. 

We as a society have endured quite a lot to get to this moment — especially our most vulnerable Americans. At Wider Circle, neighbors “came together from a distance” during the pandemic to provide much-needed social and health support to seniors and disadvantaged populations — from organizing buddy phone trees to check in on one another, to setting up mask and supplies distribution events in their neighborhoods, to working with local food banks to deliver food to those in need. Now that they can gather in-person again, Wider Circle’s facilitators and member ambassadors are thrilled to welcome their new members in person and continue the friendships. “It is an amazing feeling getting to see their faces – many of whom we’ve only met over the phone –  and give them a real life hug! There is this extra feeling of happiness and joy at our meetings and outings – it’s been the best reunion of friendships old and new!,” said Jessamyn Ochoa, a group facilitator for the San Francisco Bay Area chapter. 

But not everyone is sure about returning to pre-pandemic routines. It’s normal to feel anxious and nervous about getting back outside or going to the grocery store, even if you have been vaccinated. Here are five Wider CIrcle member-approved tips for easing back into a mask-less, people-filled world so you can enjoy connecting with others again:

Five Tips for Safe and Worry-Free Post Pandemic Gatherings

  • Remember the 2-week rule –  According to the CDC, you are considered fully vaccinated after 2 weeks of receiving your full vaccine, so be sure to stay masked and 6 feet apart until you are in the clear. Contact your physician, health plan or local pharmacy’s website for vaccination options near you. 
  • Start slow – Until you feel comfortable in larger settings, gather with friends and family you know and trust. Try a small group gathering in the park, or a potluck with the grandkids!
  • Keep up the good hygiene – While the vaccines are up to 95% effective, it’s still a good idea to have a mask handy in smaller, crowded indoor spaces like a doctor’s office or the post office. And it’s ALWAYS a good idea to wash your hands before and after an outing. 
  • Watch out for misinformation – Be sure to get your news from trusted sources. Unfortunately, the pandemic brought a slew of new grandparent scams, including scammers claiming to provide you access to the vaccine for a cost. Your Medicare or Medicaid plan covers the vaccine, so there is no cost to you. If anyone calls and asks you to share your health insurance number or financial information, you can bet it’s a scam. 
  • Stay active and enjoy the sunshine – Exercise has a proven positive effect on mental and physical well-being. And it’s a great way to ease back into the great outdoors again. Call a neighbor and take a walk around the block, or try your hand at a Wider Circle favorite: chair volleyball! 

The information included in this blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.

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About the author: Editorial Team