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How to Maintain Social Distancing in an Apartment Building

Apr 13, 2020 by Maurie Backman

The COVID-19 crisis is changing the way we live and function -- namely, by forcing us to hunker down at home in an effort to distance ourselves from others. But while that's a relatively easy thing to do when you live in a standalone house, it's much more difficult when you live in an apartment building. And while your landlord should, ideally, be taking steps to keep you and your fellow tenants safe, here are a few things you can do to uphold the practice of social distancing.

1. Take the stairs instead of an elevator

Riding an elevator is the exact opposite of social distancing -- it forces you into a cramped space and requires you to touch shared surfaces that could harbor germs. That's why you're best off avoiding your building's elevator and taking the stairs instead. That way you'll have more room to spread out, even if you're moving from floor to floor at the same time as another tenant.

2. Don't get on a crowded elevator

Skipping the elevator is possible if you live on the third or fourth floor of your building. If you live on the 20th floor, not so much. In that case, avoid walking into a crowded elevator, and if you get on an empty one that starts picking up passengers, politely ask others to move aside and let you off so you can wait out the crowd and finish your trip later. Along these lines, it wouldn't hurt to ask your landlord to put up signs requesting that elevator usage be limited to 30% or 50% capacity for the time being.

3. Order a portable washing machine to avoid the laundry room

Washing your clothing in a shared machine won't necessarily increase your COVID-19 risk. Rather, it's the act of being in your building's laundry room with other people that should have you more concerned. But while you can't go weeks without clean clothes, you can look at buying a portable washing machine and using it to do laundry from the safety of your apartment. A portable machine won't allow you to wash clothing in bulk like a regular machine, but it's an investment that can be yours for under $200, and it doesn't require a hookup.

4. Get your mail at off-peak times

Your building's mailbox area is another spot that's likely to be crowded during the day. To avoid exposure to other people, try getting your mail early in the morning or late at night, when there's less likely to be foot traffic. It also wouldn't hurt to find out when your mail is dropped off daily. That way, you can avoid coming into contact with your carrier as well.

Practicing social distancing in an apartment setting isn't easy, but a few adjustments on your part could help you stay safe during an otherwise frightening time. Though the above suggestions may seem inconvenient, if following them helps you avoid falling ill, it'll be well worth the effort.

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