How do you tell someone ‘you’re standing too close?’ An expert weighs in

As stores and restaurants continue to reopen, how do you tell someone they're standing too close to you?

ATLANTA — As restaurants, outdoor recreation spots and stores reopen, it's important to remember to social distance.

Channel 2 anchor Jorge Estevez talked to a psychologist about how to protect yourself while also not being rude to people around you.

Dr. Rosalyn Pitts Clark is a clinical psychologist. Clark offered advice on how to handle certain social situations that feel new and unfamiliar.

Content Continues Below

"I think quarantine fatigue is real, and now that summer's here, we want to get out, we want to socialize, we want to be with friends and family," Clark said. "But we really have to be very careful in this space."

Clark said we have to make sure we are still practicing social distancing and still wearing masks.

Have questions about the spread of coronavirus? We have an entire section dedicated to coverage of the outbreak. CLICK HERE for more.


Esteves said he was recently at a social-distanced front yard gathering, and he had to remind himself to keep his distance.

"You almost have to remind yourself, because you want to go and talk about a story with somebody, you want to get closer," Esteves said. "Could you just say, 'Look, I'm sorry, I've got to keep my distance' and be frank about it?"

Clark says absolutely.

"You have the right to ask someone to stand back or to back up," Clark said. "Personal space is something I really believe in.

Clark said she thinks the gentle reminders you find at stores like signs on the ground are important.

"We actually need those around us as frequent reminders, because we're not used to being out, and we're definitely not used to social distancing."

Esteves asked Clark if it's OK to ask someone to wear a mask if they are in your front lawn, or ask someone to go down a grocery aisle at the store first so you don't have to share the space.

"I think it is. Also, maneuvering OUR behavior around people who choose not to wear a mask, or who choose not to social distance," Clark said.

Clark said she was in the store the other day trying to buy flowers and the woman did not have on a mask.

"I asked her, "Do you mind moving so that I can come down the aisle? And as soon as I'm done, you're more than welcome to continue shopping," and she was gracious about it," Clark said.

Clark said it's about how you go about asserting yourself in these situations, not the fact that you are doing it in the first place. She advises to just try to be nice.

“It’s all about how you say it, not what you say,” Clark said.

Over 3,500 masks will be given out to people who need them.