This spring is an especially hopeful time as vaccine distribution efforts ramp up across the country. Spring is a wonderful season to get outside and enjoy the warmer weather. As more individuals get vaccinated, engaging in activities outside of the home will become safer. While we are all anxious to go on a hike or see our families and friends, we must not disregard health and safety guidelines. It is imperative to remember we are not out of the woods yet, and COVID-19 cases could surge once again as being seen in Europe, especially as new variants emerge. Below are some tips on how to stay safe while enjoying spring activities.
Cherry Blossom or Garden Tour
One of the best ways to celebrate springtime is to marvel at the blossoms in full bloom. There are many ways to enjoy the beautiful spring flowers this year, whether virtually, in person, or by car. If you do travel, remember to research safety guidelines and come prepared with a face covering and hand sanitizer. Keep your distance between yourself and other members of the tour, even when outside. There are many locations offering virtual tours this year, which are a safe and convenient way to see the spring blossoms anywhere in the world. Car tours are also a great way to explore an area and get lost in nature. Local gardens are always a suitable option to get your family out of the house, or you can even admire your own yard or neighborhood green space.
Spring Break Travel
Although spring break is often a time to travel and have fun in the sun with large groups of friends and family members, this year it is still important to rethink our plans. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has advised against traveling for spring break due to the chance it could lead to a surge in cases as well as increase the spread of variants. Consider alternatives to distant travel and large gatherings to remain safe. Lower your risk by taking a road trip, travel to a secluded area to camp or hike, and follow safety precautions, especially with those outside of your household.
Hitting the Beach
While the CDC has not approved mass gatherings, a trip to the beach with those you are living with or who are in “your bubble” is a safe option this spring. Set your beach blanket/umbrella at a safe distance from others – avoid crowded beaches. While at the beach, dining at an outdoor restaurant that observes social distancing and uses face coverings is a low risk activity. It is advised you keep your face covering on while you are basking in the sun or relaxing. Bring more than one face covering in case one gets wet or sandy. When using a public bathroom be mindful, wear your face covering and wash your hands. Carry hand sanitizer or alcohol-based wipes and use them frequently. Of course, while swimming without your face covering, maintain social distancing. Always stay with your family or group. Wear a face covering when leaving the beach, especially while walking on a boardwalk or engaging in other social activities.
As we saw this past winter, gathering together to celebrate holidays can lead to surges in COVID-19 cases. To limit transmission of the disease, it is advised individuals do not travel or congregate together to celebrate this Easter. Virtual celebrations and religious ceremonies are the safest way to engage with distant family members and partake in festivities. If you must travel, remember to follow safety precautions and avoid indoor gatherings.
Hiking or Walking
Hiking, walking, and other physical activities that are low-contact are safe and excellent for your well-being. When performing these activities with individuals outside of your household, wear a face covering or be socially distant. If you come across other individuals on your path, remember to give them space when walking by and have your face mask ready to put on. Always carry hand sanitizer so you can clean your hands if you use a bathroom or touch surfaces. It is best to enjoy these activities only with a few people and avoid groups if possible.
Picnicking outdoors is a wonderful way to enjoy the warm weather. Eating outside is a low-risk activity, but it is advised to keep gatherings small and socially distant. Remember to stay at least six-feet away from other tables and picnickers, and have face coverings and hand sanitizers available. Avoid food that is shared and opt for disposable plates and utensils to limit transmission. Small gatherings of fully vaccinated individuals are ok.
Enjoying a drive-in theater with those you live with is low risk, and the potential contacts are low. If you plan to do this activity with a group of friends or individuals you don’t regularly have contact with, make sure you are all using face coverings, and keep the car windows open for optimal air flow. Remember, group activities pose an increased risk and it further increases if multiple people who do not reside together are sitting in a car together. A car is not an optimal environment for social distancing so make sure the doors and windows are open if sitting in a car or bring lawn chairs and sit outside. The safest way to enjoy the movies this summer is at a dive-in theater with those you live with and if you’re in a group, stay in that group.
Visiting a vineyard or winery carries medium risk for contact intensity and number of contacts. If going to a vineyard, make sure that you maintain social distancing and wear a face covering when you are not drinking or eating. Sitting outside is ideal to minimize risk and carry your own sanitizing wipes to clean menus or other surfaces before and after use to further reduce the risk of contamination; and make sure that the tables are at least 6 feet apart. Any indoor, group activity carries a higher risk of acquiring COVID-19.