Q: I live in a condominium and have to use an elevator on a daily basis. How can I use it safely during the pandemic?

A: You are right to be concerned about being in close proximity to people outside your household, especially if it’s in a small, enclosed area like an elevator. The best approach is to wait until the elevator is empty and ride it alone.

If your building is so big that the elevator is rarely empty, you should wear a face mask. It’s also best to practice respiratory etiquette if you aren’t in a mask: Cough or sneeze into a tissue and throw away the tissue as quickly as possible. These measures prevent the spread of illnesses, and they demonstrate respect for other people who might be anxious about getting sick.

While on the elevator, keep contact with surfaces to a minimum. And when you have exited the elevator, use hand sanitizer and wash your hands as soon as you can get to a sink.

DR. IRFAN HAFIZ, infectious disease specialist and chief medical officer at Northwestern Medicine Huntley Hospital


A: While waiting for the elevator, stand 6 feet from one another. If you are part of a larger group using the elevator, appropriate personal space guidelines should apply, and only a few people should use the elevator at a time. This might be hard to achieve in a small elevator, but try your best.

Inside the elevator, we should refrain from conversations, positive or negative. We still can greet our fellow riders with a nod of the head and a brief “Good morning.” And with a friendly hand gesture, we can let people leave the elevator before us and help everyone avoid being unnecessarily close to one another.

MARYANNE PARKER, etiquette expert