Almost the entire world has been in a quarantine of some form or another for at least two months now, so we completely understand why you want to get out and live life like you normally would. However, any actions that you take can increase your risk of becoming infected with COVID-19. Of course, your risk is dependent on many other things like your age, health, the number of cases where you live, and the precautions you take every time you leave your home.
It is a known fact that the fewer people you are around, the lower your risk will be and vice versa. According to Dr. Emily Landon, who is a epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist at University of Chicago Medicine, “Always choose outdoors over indoor, always choose masking over not masking and always choose more space for fewer people over a smaller space.”.
Summer Activities and Their Level of Risk for You and Your Family
Low Risks Summer Activities
It is quite easy to stay socially distanced from others while you are exercising outside, unless you are trying to play team sports. As long as you are walking, running, riding a bike, or doing another activity on your own, your risk will be very low. Team sports like tennis and golf can be done practically risk-free if you follow the guidelines and limit your contact with others.
Basically, the more people you are around, the higher your risk will be, so it is best to limit yourself to a group of one for your workouts. You should also have a mask handy in case you end up getting closer to people while you are exercising. Among all summer activities personally I like this the most.
Enjoying Time at a Local Pool or Beach
The risk of spending time at a local pool or beach is quite low, but you must use common safety precautions during your visit. The water will dilute the virus, so the chances of you being infected while in the water is slim. However, if you are standing directly next to a person and they start coughing or talking, you will have a higher risk.
Your best option is to stay at least six feet from other people who are not in your immediate group. This includes the time you are waiting to enter the area and using the bathrooms. The best time to visit these two locations are either early in the morning or later in the day, because those are considered the off-peak times.
As long as you are just with your immediate family, camping is an excellent way to get out to enjoy the outdoors. Since this is an outdoor activity where you can isolate yourself from others, it is considered lower risk. The risk increases when you are at popular campgrounds where it is more crowded.
It is best to camp in an RV since you will have your own bathroom. However, you can be safe using public restrooms if they are cleaned regularly and properly, as well as using proper social distancing while you are in them.
Allowing People to Use Your Bathroom
Your own personal bathroom is easy to clean quite well, so there is little risk to allowing people to use it. All you need to do is clean all the high-touch surfaces, like toilets, sinks, and the door, really well afterwards.
Vacationing at a Vacation Home with One Other Household
Going to a vacation home with another household is not as risky as it may appear, especially if you all have been staying away from other people. The risk only increases if at least one person in one of the households needs to go into work every day or hasn’t been practicing social distancing.
It is best to go over all the necessary precautions before the trip, so everyone has the same expectations. You should also make sure that no one has a temperature, or signs of any illness, before departing for your time away from home.
Low to Medium Risks
Backyard Gathering with One Household Other than Your Own
It is not too risky to have a get together in your backyard if you are only with one small group of people, but there are risks involved. It is best to invite a family who has been following all the social distancing guidelines instead of one who has been going everywhere without masks.
You should also have everyone bring their own food and drinks, as well as plates and utensils. This will ensure that everyone isn’t touching the same items in the middle of your party. If you can stay six feet apart from each other, you will not need to wear masks. This is best, because it is impossible to eat and drink with a mask on anyway. However, if the kids are playing together, they should wear a mask for the safety of the entire group.
Using Public Restrooms
People have had risks of contracting many different diseases in restrooms over the years, but the way all restrooms are designed ensure that transmission is low. The risk of using a restroom is going to be dependent on how often, and how well, the restroom you are using is cleaned.
Smaller restrooms are going to be riskier to use than larger bathrooms, simply due to the space constraints. It is best to only use restrooms that look clean and are stocked with extra paper towels, toilet paper, and soap. As you are using the restroom, practice social distancing, and then wash your hands well before you leave.
Staying at Hotels
Simply checking into a hotel and going straight to your room will allow you to face minimal risks. However, higher risks come into play when you begin to use all those common areas like the swimming pool, fitness center, and the lobby.
To minimize your risks even more, we recommend using disinfectant wipes to clean all the common surfaces in your hotel room. The bedspread should also not be used as a covering since they are often used for multiple guests. Most hotels are implementing new cleaning protocols, so you may want to check them out before reserving your room.
Medium to High Risks Summer Activities
Eating Indoors at Restaurants
One of the higher risks you can have right now is dining at a restaurant while sitting at the indoor tables. Not too many people rush through their meals at a restaurant, so you will be exposed to people for a much longer period of time. Plus, if the heat or air conditioning is on, it can blow droplets of the virus from table to table.
Some restaurants will be safer than others, but it is dependent on what precautions the restaurants have put into place. Spaced out seating, single use condiments, servers wearing masks, and multiple handwashing stations can reduce the risk greatly. If you want to lower your risk at a restaurant, you may want to find one that offers outdoor seating.
Outdoor Gatherings with More than 10 People
There are so many gatherings during the summer months, and you are going to want to attend all the graduations, weddings, birthday parties, and other special events. The larger the guest list, the higher of a chance you have of getting too close to a person who has been exposed to the virus.
If you must have a gathering, you should limit the number of people in attendance. You should also avoid traveling long distances to go to gatherings and avoid inviting people from out of town to your gatherings. Older relatives, and people with underlying conditions, may want to avoid these types of gatherings as well.
Visiting a Salon or Barber
Unfortunately, getting your haircut involves a person being quite close to you. It is impossible to avoid being in close contact with a person during a haircut, so you must use proper protection if you want to keep everyone safe.
You, and the person cutting your hair, should wear masks and make sure everyone washes their hands in between customers. It is also best to not have long conversations when you are getting your hair cut.
High Risks Summer Activities
Indoor Religious Services
All religious services require people to meet in a sometimes-small space for long periods of time. Those cramped quarters, and larger numbers of people, can create outbreaks at a much faster pace. This is especially true when people are singing, because droplets can be released from a person’s mouth.
Reducing the crowds inside and making sure people are wearing masks can be helpful during religious services to avoid spreading the virus. You should also avoid sharing hymnals and any other worship items.
Partying at Nightclubs
Almost every nightclub has tons of people in close quarters and everyone is singing, dancing, sweating, and staying in close contact with each other. All those things put this summer activity higher up on the risk level factor. There really is no way to make this experience safer at the moment, so this is one activity you should probably check off your list for a while.
Multiple Risk Levels
Going to a Mall
There is really no set risk level for shopping at malls, because every mall is different. Some malls have very few people shopping in them, while others are always packed with people. The good news is that most people do not stay in one place for too long, so that helps lower the risk level.
If you want to have the lowest risk possible, you must go to an outdoor mall instead of an indoor mall. Skip the food court and instead focus on getting in and out with exactly what you went there for. It is best to go during off-peak times, but still wear a mask and either wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer.
As you can see, there are a few summer activities that are safer than others on this list. It will be up to you to decide which risks you are willing to take and which ones you want to avoid for now. Whichever risks you decide to take, it is going to be important to practice social distancing and wear a mask whenever you cannot stay at least six feet away from people.