By Marsha Shyer, Co-Owner, Brandes House

We are friendly folks, Frank Lloyd Wright homeowners. In general, that’s a good thing. But during times like these, what does hospitality look like?

First, of course, let’s remember that no one is requiring a private homeowner to open their home up to anyone. While the pandemic still rages in some parts of the country, in other parts, things are beginning to open up. What does that mean for your own personal hospitality? One Wright homeowner wrote in to describe his first guest:

“…he immediately put his hand out and shook my hand before I could realize what was happening. Then, throughout the visit he kept on intruding into my personal space (within 2-3 feet).”

This guest’s behavior may have been acceptable under pre-pandemic norms. But by the new rules, and the host’s unspoken expectations, the guest was way out of line.

As a host, how do you keep the interaction from going awry, when society is still catching up with new interpersonal conventions?

Before you invite anyone to your house, consider the following.

Look to the following for their recommendations on whether and how to open up:

  • Visit this website for population adjusted COVID-19 rate by county. Only consider opening for your visitor when the county where your home is located (or where your visitor is from) is in green or yellow. When COVID-19 rates are high, they appear on this site as orange/red counties.
  • The Centers for Disease Control, states, counties and municipalities also offer recommendations on whether and how to open up.
  • Consider what local historical sites are doing and saying, but remember that those sites have the benefit of signs and docents to implement the new rules.

Reconsider the scope of your typical tour.

Many public sites are now doing outdoor and grounds tours only, and this is a good model to follow. If you do decide to offer an outside and grounds only tour for now, you can consider an invitation for an interior tour after a vaccine has been developed and COVID-19 risks have diminished.

If you do decide to go inside, based on the size of your home, consider how much time you want to spend inside the house. All conversation and explanation should be done outside. Inside the owner can speak, but owners should request that guest questions or conversations be held until the tour is once again outside.

It’s reasonable to ask guests to wear masks at all times, even when outside, and certainly inside.

Even if outside only, if there are groups of people who do not know each other, they should be kept separate, which may limit how many can go on tours. You would not want one guest transmitting COVID-19 to another guest or to the owner.

If going inside, you might also want to consider what guests may or will touch. If there are stairs, guests will need to use handrails, and proper cleaning should be done between guests.

Ultimately, it is your call whether you are comfortable having guests to your home. We offer these suggestions as points to consider if you do invite visitors to tour your house.

If you feel that you want or need to invite people over now, here are some suggestions.

Email your ground rules ahead, for instance:

  • Please do not come if you feel ill or have a temperature.
  • Please do not come if you share a home or office space with an individual who has tested positive for Covid-19 within the last two weeks.
  • A mask is required.
  • Social distancing of 6 feet is required at all times.
  • No uninvited people can come.
  • No handshaking.
  • Use hand sanitizer upon coming into the home.
  • Do not touch anything in house (with the possible exception of hand rails).

Think ahead of scenarios and how you may handle them politely. Remember that this is for health purposes!

Have extra masks handy.

Have hand sanitizer available and require that it be used.

Think of what a unit of 6 feet is in the context of your home, and then make that very clear.

Do not change your rules. If extra people do show up, they can wait in the car or the group can come another day.

Ultimately, it is your call whether you are comfortable having guests to your home. We offer these suggestions as points to consider if you do invite visitors to tour your house.

The Conservancy thanks Fred Lado, MD PhD: Director, Epilepsy – Northwell Health, Eastern and Central Regions, New York, for his review and contributions to this article.

Posted on July 24, 2020

Posted July 24, 2020