Safe and fun summer activities in the age of the coronavirus pandemic

July 2, 2020

By Karen Stokes

After being quarantined for months, the sun, blue skies and warm temperatures are calling us outdoors. However, the coronavirus is still a threat and there are concerns on how to safely engage in activities this summer.

“Safer at Home” has given time for scientists to better understand how the virus spreads. While they’re still learning, they now have some important clues about which behaviors and activities impact transmission.

Summer offers more opportunities for outdoor activities. Generally, outdoor activities pose less risk than indoor activities. Greater airflow outside reduces your chance of encountering a large dose of the airborne virus, especially activities without large concentrations of people.

Social distancing and wearing a mask can alter risk level significantly.

There are different levels of risk for various social interactions and activities. Staying home as much as possible is still the safest. While no activity is without risk, some activities may have a reduced risk of Covid-19 infection.

Hiking, Walking, Camping, Jogging, Biking

• All good examples of lower risk outdoor activities
• Exercise contributes to good health, which helps us maintain a healthy immune system.

Visiting a park or beach

• Stay at least six feet from others at all times. Do not use crowded trails and paths.
• Avoid gathering with others outside of your household.
• Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom and before eating.
• Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

Backyard BBQ

• Getting together with family or friends who don’t live in your household comes with a risk of infection. The fewer the people, the lower the risk
• Use disposable plates and utensils
• Single serve beverages and condiments

Playdates

• Keep the number of kids limited and stay outside.
• Keep activities to those where physical distancing isn’t challenging.

Tennis

Singles tennis where it’s easy to maintain a six-foot distance is considered low risk. Families can also set up badminton or pickleball courts at home for a change of pace.

Golf

If you feel you can stay a safe distance from others, you should feel free to head to the course.

Swimming

• Being in the water is not a risk, but that depends on someone’s ability to remain distant from other swimmers, especially when they’re not wearing a face covering.
• Avoid crowded pools and beaches.
• Consider going on a weekday, in the morning or late in the day.

Reconsider participating in activities with large gatherings like parades, festivals, sporting events and concerts, they are still considered high risk because they bring large groups of people in close proximity to one another for an extended period of time. Playing soccer, basketball and football, where you have large teams in close proximity are also problematic and could be considered high risk, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Travel and airlines

Traveling to different states in an airplane, where people are in close proximity to one another is considered high risk. Airlines have scrambled to adapt to the new environment.

They’ve implemented new measures aimed at reducing contact between travelers, crews and other airport workers. The CDC still advises against all nonessential travel.

People with underlying health conditions and those over the age of 65 are still considered at increased risk of serious illness from the coronavirus, according to the CDC. When gathering with family and friends, consider the age and underlying conditions of the people there and those you live with.

This summer people need to embrace the ‘new normal’. They can still have fun but with smaller groups and closer to home. Some situations are difficult to assess but by following the basic guidelines of social distancing, good hand washing hygiene and wearing a mask in public, everyone should be able to get outside and enjoy summer activities.