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Miss Manners by Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

Quarantine or Not, Here’s How to Get Guests to Leave

DEAR MISS MANNERS: In this day of staying home and isolating because of the coronavirus, what is a polite way to tell people it is time for them to leave?

I am a secret introvert who enjoys people, as long as there is some kind of interesting conversation. Ordinarily, when the party dies out, the dinner with friends starts to quiet or the social drink on the patio runs out of conversation, I have always been able to pull off the “I have a headache” or “I have to get up early” excuse.

Of course, those ploys don’t work now; everyone knows I have nowhere to be in the morning, and I don’t want anyone to worry that my headache is a coronavirus symptom.

GENTLE READER: Even trusting that the company was properly vetted, and that they are starved for face-to-face socializing, Miss Manners sympathizes with you.

But you should not have been making excuses. As a guest, you are supposed to make the first signs of leaving, and should merely say how much you enjoyed yourself and that you look forward to seeing everyone again. And then you leave.

But you seem to be the host, virtual or actual, and under no circumstances are hosts supposed to cite their own need to clear the house. Fortunately, they are allowed to worry about the well-being of the guests.

Say, “Well, we’ve been so happy to see you, but I know you must be tired.” In person, the essential part is to stand up when you say it, and keep standing until they get to their feet, at which point you can graciously walk them to the door. Online, you need only wave and end the meeting.