DEAR HARRIETTE: My next-door neighbor is very chatty and used to come over all the time -- too much for my liking -- after work to chat. I shut that down after the lockdown started, which made her angry. She said that since we live next door to each other, we should be safe. But she doesn’t stay home -- she can’t. She works for the city and has to go to work every day. To me, that means she could be exposed to anything.
My family and I have been staying inside almost every day. We only go out to get groceries, and we are careful not to interact with anyone. I don’t want to hurt my neighbor’s feelings, but I do not want to let her in my house. How can I get her to back off? -- Boundaries
DEAR BOUNDARIES: Call your neighbor on the phone and tell her you need to talk. Point out how uncomfortable it is to have to socially distance even when you are living so close to each other, but make it clear that you do not want her to visit face-to-face right now. Thank her for her service as a front-line worker. Tell her how much you appreciate that she makes the choice to go out each day to do her job, which is beneficial for all of us. Add that her daily exposure to other people puts her at risk of being in contact with the coronavirus.
Since you and your family have been vigilant about staying home except as absolutely necessary, you do not feel comfortable exposing any of them to anyone, especially someone who has to be out in the thick of things every day. This disease is invisible, but we do know that it is spread from person to person when those people are in close proximity to each other.