Experts on dealing with friends tempted to break lockdown rules

According to psychologists, people should be “firm” and “just say no” to family or friends who want to break the lockdown rules.

Coronavirus restrictions have now eased slightly in England, but strict restrictions still apply to gatherings.

Experts say that setting boundaries with people you want to see can keep you from getting into awkward situations.

Groups of up to six people from different households – or larger groups of just two households – are now allowed to socialize outdoors in England, including in private gardens.

The MEN spoke to psychologists to find out how best to deal with loved ones who may be tempted to break the rules.

Dr. Nilufar Ahmed, behavioral psychologist at Bristol University, advises: “Be firm about boundaries and communicate that this is important to you.

“Do not get involved in their decisions and rule violations, as this can create tension.”

Psychologist Laverne Antrobus added, “The new guide to meeting a group of people outdoors is really exciting and a big step in the right direction.

“However, it is very important to follow the instructions and only meet outdoors.

“This can mean getting into situations where you have to say no to join a large group of six people or more, or feel pressured to go inside with people outside your bladder.

“It is so important to set boundaries and be assertive in situations like this and continue to follow directions in order to protect yourself and your loved ones from the virus.”

Dr. Ahmed said that it is good practice to respond to meeting invitations as soon as they arrive: “Respond as soon as possible to avoid thinking about and worrying about invitations that are uncomfortable to you.

“The more pressure we feel, the greater the risk that we will break our principles and later beat ourselves up.”

“If you are clear from the start, you may be concerned.”

One way to relieve tension is to suggest to friends and family that a better time to meet up would be when fewer people are around, said Dr. Ahmed, commenting, “You can signal your limits if you say,” It sounds like it’s going to be more than six people there and I just don’t feel comfortable with it.

“But if the numbers fall, please let me know and I’ll rethink.”

“That way you don’t blame anyone for their decisions and show that you are open to seeing them, only within the rules.”

The UK government says the risk of transmitting Covid-19 is “significantly lower in the fresh air than indoors” and urges people to stick to the rules.

As part of its campaign to promote compliance, the government sought to explain why outdoor meetings are safer than indoor meetings.

Campaign Advisor Professor Catherine Noakes of Leeds University said: “It is important that we follow the instructions and stay outdoors when we meet people who are not from our household or our bladder.

“An infected person releases particles into the air by coughing, talking, or simply breathing.

“The closer you are to humans, the greater the risk of inhaling infected particles.

“When we are outdoors, the risk of infection is significantly lower because the fresh air disperses and blows away Covid-19 particles and we have more space for social distance from one another.

“When outdoors, stick to groups of six or two households.

“Keep a safe distance and meet outside because you’re much safer in the fresh air.”

A new film will be televised as part of the government campaign highlighting the effects of fresh air on reducing the risk of transmission.

The film is directed by Dr. Hilary Jones MBE told by Good Morning Britain.

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