With Phase 2 of reopening upon us, many of us have a question. How do we get social again during phase 2?

We’re all looking forward to resurfacing in public and reconnecting with our friends, but how do we go about this prudently?

Talking with my friends who are health practitioners, they suggest that we keep the volume turned down low, and slowly invite social encounters back into our life. The mantra of 6 feet in distance, washing hands, masks when in public places and staying home when sick, have not changed. Phase 2 just presents a chance to take the same rules that we’ve been practicing out to a few more locations with a few more people around.

In light of those who are the most vulnerable, we can think about re-entry as a sliding scale of risks versus exposure. Those most at risk – our senior population, and those with medical conditions – need to hold the reins a little tighter.

Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a neuroscientist and psychologist at Brigham Young University, has been studying the effects of social isolation and the lasting results that may ensue. Just as real as the economic recession, she fears that the pandemic will leave us all with a greater sense of social disconnection. This is especially true for many seniors in our community who already suffer from loneliness at greater rates and will need to keep hard-fast rules on social distancing in place.

With stay at home measures being scaled down, there will inevitably be people who choose to not take actions we might think appropriate and others who seem to take exaggerated precautions. Rather than rushing to judge those who are not following our perception of appropriate responses, maybe we can take a breath, dial back our fears and make a real effort to allow them their choices. One phrase comes to mind:

You be you.

We’ve come this far in our journey acting with compassion and a commitment to work together. Let’s continue into Phase 2 with a response that brings us closer together, not tears us apart, finding solutions that work for everyone in fighting this pandemic.

Author Maury Wiegand has been a personal trainer and wellness educator in Bozeman for the past 25 years.