Neighbors Convene at a Distance, Using Liquor And A Tape Measure

Hallway drinking is a time-honored New York tradition, practiced for years by parents who need to listen for crying babies but also need a nightcap.

In the age of Covid-19, the tradition is spreading and taking on new dimensions. In one building on 91st Street, three sets of neighbors sat outside their doors with drinks and a tape measure, making sure they follow the 6-foot social distancing rule. Click the panorama below to enlarge it.

Mike Balz told us that he and his sixth floor neighbors were “going stir crazy” and wanted to share the neighborly spirit.

Update: We’ve heard from readers in the comments that the people are still too close. (For what it’s worth, Mike said his family has otherwise been super strict about staying inside.) West Side Rag is planning to write a feature giving more guidance on this.

ABSURDITY | 24 comments | permalink
    1. bob says:

      definitely not safe to be 6 feet apart in an enclosed space.

    2. C says:

      This is so brilliant. Love it.

    3. Amy Cook says:

      Six feet is a general rule for outside, not indoors.

      • lidia says:

        exactly, I see this as potentially dangerous. one of them could be asymptomatic. I know we are all waiting to get back to normal, but this is not ideal for socializing indoors.

      • MomInaHallway says:

        Amy, may I ask what the appropriate distance is while indoors?

        • UWSHebrew says:

          you’re in an enclosed space, inhaling other people’s expelled breath. we are all taking a risk by going to the grocery store, but we have to eat. to talk to friends in an apartment hallway is unbelievable in it’s ignorance and danger. TALK TO YOUR FRIENDS OUTSIDE.

        • Karla says:

          The CDC recommends to “Avoid large and small gatherings in private places and public spaces,” which is what this is. The social distancing rule is meant principally for the times when you are doing ESSENTIAL activities outside, such as shopping for groceries. These people are putting themselves and others at risk if one of them is asymptomatic.

    4. WestSomethingStreet says:

      Is this supposed to be cute? Because it’s not.

    5. HelenD says:

      Ugh, what are you supposed to do when your neighbors have people over and they’re sitting on the staircase to ‘socially distance?’I couldn’t get down the stairs so I asked the gyy sitting there to toss my trash bag in the bin but he didn’t want to touch it, so it was like a bizarro game of musical-chairs in the hallway to make space for me. This has gone on 3 days in a row now. I know coop buildings that aren’t allowing more than 2 people in an elevator at a time. There really needs to be one clear set of rules for EVERYONE because clearly some people never knew or they’re already choosing to forget WHY we’re staying inside. Side note…the kids in the bubble photo aren’t wearing masks. No rules for children either? It’s just too much.

    6. Kevin S says:

      We need more creativity like this- love it! Let’s be physically distant, but socially connected!

      • Boris says:

        I don’t find any creative about drinking together in a hallway. Maybe you can explain why this is so unique.

    7. Julie says:

      I don’t know why some people think that droplets magically stop at 6 feet. It’s just a guidance that is somewhat possible to follow AND it includes wearing masks. Droplets can travel a lot further if you talk, and obviously even more if you sneeze or cough.

    8. John H says:

      At the risk of having my head bitten off…While I appreciate that technically they may be too close for indoors you have to find a sustainable option here. We are 6-7 weeks into this with many weeks ahead of us. This is not in any way high risk behavior and if we don’t do this in a sustainable way it won’t last. We need to find ways to be creative and make social distancing sustainable and this feels quite creative. I can assure you that people who are measuring out how far apart they are, are taking this seriously. This feels a lot less risky than standing in line for Trader Joe’s when D’Agistino is a block away and empty

      • UWSHebrew says:

        “This feels a lot less risky than standing in line for Trader Joe’s when D’Agistino is a block away and empty” — OUTDOORS. People in a narrow, low ceiling, unventilated apartment hallway — APPLES AND BICYCLES.

        • John H says:

          The point is not that it is riskier to stand in the Trader Joes line (versus indoors conversation) but that it is riskier to stand in the Trader Joes line than to go shop at D’Agostino. All risk is relative. This is in no way risky behavior and we all need to find a balance between what’s sustainable and lowers risk.

          • Kathleen says:

            You said twice that “this is in no way risky behavior.” Really? I beg to differ. There is absolutely risk. Whether you choose to take it is up to you, but to say it is in no way risky is just ignorant and irresponsible.

      • My point says:

        I’m with you. I’ve been very obedient to every social distancing norm but we can’t all stay inside for the next two years. There is unlikely to be a miracle vaccine in a few months. If people can’t sit in a hall together for a year six feet apart as some commenters seem to be saying then just write off NYC now because the city can never survive

        • Ladybug says:

          How about just waiting for your hallway socializing until testing is available? That would at least slightly reduce the possibility of giving or getting it!

        • Kathleen says:

          Wait, the city can’t survive unless we can socialize in our hallways??? Get a grip.

      • JL says:

        This is what happens without strong leadership from the top down. It facilitated the initial U.S. outbreak, and the federal government is willing to sacrifice the more vulnerable sub-groups to a second wave to get things going again. We are told to figure it out for ourselves as 50 separate countries, and that’s why different people are trying different strategies with insufficient data and/or different belief/value systems.

        https://gothamist.com/news/crowded-hasidic-funeral-williamsburg-coordinated-approved-nypd

        The irony of the cause of death for the Rabbi is Covid19 related cannot be missed.

        We need WIDESPREAD testing, instead we get an airshow and a fleet-week like recruitment commercial. At least W. gave New Orleans a fly-by after that disaster.

    9. UWSmom says:

      This has to be one of the more selfish and rude things I have seen to date. Do 100% of all apartments/residents on a floor attend these floor parties? The partiers apparently expect their neighbors to run a gauntlet through this sea of humanity, in order to carry out essential activities like getting medicine or groceries or taking out trash or doing laundry. Or the partiers expect the neighbors to remain trapped in their homes during the event as well as for hours/days after since any of the partiers’ aerosoled virus will remain live on the walls, floors, etc. for days.

    10. Chris says:

      I would have the doorman come up and get these folks back in their apartments. All those chairs in the hall are very unsafe and it is against the law to have or leave anything in the hallways in NYC. Hallways are not for social gatherings period.

    11. Denizen of West 90th Street says:

      Well, with any luck at all, years down the road, they’ll all have a good chuckle over that photo and all the comments it elicited.

    12. Andrea says:

      Humans are social creatures, and the lack of human interaction can take a toll–not on everyone, but on some. I would say this is especially true when two working parents need to act as their child’s/children’s teacher at the same time. We need both mental health *and* physical health, and this to me looks like a thoughtful attempt to balance the two. (Full disclosure: I did this with four friends last night–cocktails and hallway–and after 6 weeks of talking only to husband and child, it gave me a taste of normal life.)