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How To Turn Down Invitations During COVID Without Being Awkward

Declining invitations during a raging pandemic should be a no-brainer, but there’s still a polite way to go about it. Here’s how.

An unexpected challenge of the pandemic has been the urge of wanting to take care of our health while still being polite to our friends. Now that restrictions have been loosening up, people in different states are hosting parties, weddings and all sorts of gatherings. Still, the pandemic is not doing great in the U.S. and experts have warned against these kinds of behaviors.

While there is no right way of following social etiquette guidelines during COVID, it’s important to be mindful of others and to ensure that you feel safe at all times. At some point, you may have to say “no” to an invitation, and you’ll have to figure out a way of not hurting someone you care about in the process.

The Huffington Post spoke with some etiquette experts on the matter. Here are some of their best bits of advice:

Get informed

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If you get an invite to a social event and are asking yourself if it’s safe to go, the best thing you can do is to make an informed decision. “You have a right to ask the host if they will be implementing social distancing measures before accepting an invitation,” said etiquette expert Diane Gottsman. Once you have all the necessary information, like the amount of guests, whether there will be social distancing, etc., give yourself a day or two to mull it over and come to a decision.

Be honest

Share your decision as soon as you can, that way you can give the other person plenty of time to invite someone else or change their plans. Be honest with them, explaining your circumstances and why you think it’s best to avoid this gathering due to health concerns over the pandemic. Keep it neat and simple, avoiding openings for further discussion.

Avoid debates

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The most important thing to do here is to avoid entering a back and forth exchange with the person who’s inviting you. There’s no need to go on a tangent about what’s right and wrong in COVID times. Everyone is trying their best in coping with an unprecedented situation.

Send a gift and be understanding

If you’re declining an invitation to an important event where a registry is involved, send a gift, just as you would if you were missing out on the party for any other reason. If you feel that your friend or family member has a different ideology than you and yet you still care about having them involved in your life, send them a note or a present that lets them know you’re thinking about them and wish them the best.

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