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COVID-19: the Ultimate Guide to Protecting Your Health and Enjoying the Summer

by Ken McBride
young man dating older woman, happily lounging in sofa

After all, everyone has given up so much to contribute to public health, and it is only fair to desire to enjoy your summer. And you may wonder how to do that safely and securely to protect yourself and those that you care about the most.

The basic measures to avoid the virus remained the same throughout this period: wear a face mask in crowded places, keep a safe distance from others, wash your hands regularly with soap or a hand sanitizer, and not go out or attend social events if you feel sick. There is just one core concept: avoid exposure to the virus.

You have missed going to the restaurant, the cinema or the pub. This is perfectly normal, and looser restrictions in the summer give way to the possibility of finally planning outside activities again. Trying to organize trips and nights out so that they are safe, though, might be tricky. Especially if your health conditions, or those of your family members, need to be considered. So—while recurring to common sense is always the best strategy—we have collected a few useful tips about the dos and don’ts of this summer.

Can I see my family again?

For many, the hardest part of going through a pandemic has been the impossibility of seeing their families. While most people have graciously accepted the restrictions to protect their most fragile family members, it is undeniable that over one year of isolation makes you crave the love, affection, and company of your dearest ones. As of now, it is once again possible to visit your relatives and organize family gatherings. But what can you do to keep everyone safe? Here are some ideas:

  • Keep the list of guests as small as possible. There will always be time to organize large get-togethers. But for now, you don’t want to take any chances.
  • Try to organize barbecues and other kinds of outdoor events to keep potential exposure to the virus to a minimum. After all, in this heat, who wants to stay inside?
  • Avoid buffets and opt for single-serving meals. Also, design just a few people that can touch, prepare, or serve food.

A corollary: Should I attend religious services?

The restrictions on the attendance of religious services have been destabilizing for believers of any creed. Particularly as attending religious services was often experienced as a way of spending quality time with your family and closest friends. Many services are broadcast online and can be attended to from the safety of your home. However, if you go in person, remember to check how many people may attend the service and book your spot at the due time.

Can I see my doctor?

old man checked for blood pressure

At the height of the pandemic, it was understandably very hard to get a doctor’s appointment for a check-up. However, if you suffer from health issues or preexisting conditions, you should not regret your health. Even though telemedicine is widely available, it may not respond to your needs. However, keep in mind that, if you suspect that you may have been infected with COVID-19, the best option is to phone your health provider to run through your options.

Can I engage in open-air activities?

Outdoor sports and activities have been a notable exception to the harsh restrictions, even during spikes in the number of infections. So, it can be assumed that spending time in the open air, and especially in nature, is relatively safe. Here are a few guidelines:

  • If you go hiking, remember to wear your mask in those situations where keeping a distance is difficult (like on narrow trails). Apart from that, practicing sports and staying fit is not only a good idea but your right. So, go for that walk and enjoy the fresh air!
  • If you prefer going to the beach or swimming in a pool, avoid peak times. Wearing a mask in the water is unnecessary, as there is no sign that the COVID-19 virus can be spread through water.
  • If you have kids or there are children in your family, try to prevent them from sharing toys, food, and other personal items.

Should I hit the gym again?

COVID-19: the Ultimate Guide to Protecting Your Health and Enjoying the Summer

Going to the gym, and exercising indoors, has to be handled more carefully than outdoor activities. Here’s what you can do:

  • Plan your exercise schedule in advance. Some gyms require online reservations to limit the number of people that can come in.
  • Do not make use of equipment if that brings excessively close to someone else who is exercising; especially if the type of activity makes it hard to wear a mask (like running on a treadmill).
  • Disinfect the equipment before starting your routine, and avoid shared equipment (such as yoga mats) that cannot be cleaned in-between use.

Should I Go Back to my Favorite Restaurant?

Here comes the fateful question. For more than a year now, you have craved delicious sushi from that small restaurant on the riverside. Now you are wondering if it’s safe to go there again. The answer is, very likely, yes. You just need to:

  • Check out the restaurant’s safety guidelines. Most restaurants make them available on their website.
  • Be wary of salad bars, self-service areas, and other buffet-style restaurants.
  • If you just cannot settle for drive-thrus or takeout (we know, it’s not the same thing), try to book in a restaurant that offers outdoor seating. Especially in summer, the air conditioning may pose an increased threat of infection.
  • Remember to book in advance, as many restaurants have reduced their seating capacity to comply with safety guidelines.

Risk-free shopping

Online shopping has been your best companion during the pandemic, but now you feel ready to go back to shopping in person. That’s ok, as long as you exercise precautions! Try these tips:

  • Create a list of items you need to minimize the time you spend in any single store.
  • Pay with your card, phone, or any other form of touchless payment (pay without touching money, a card, or a keypad).
  • As an extra precaution, wash your hands after putting your groceries away (although there is no evidence that food packaging is risky as a source of COVID-19 infection).

Will it be Possible to Travel?

As of August 2020, it is possible to travel domestically and internationally, especially if you can provide proof of complete vaccination. However, not every country has the same regulations for preventive quarantine measures. Thus, remember to check the latest policies applied in your destination country, as well as the policies of your home country regarding the return of citizens from international trips.

Traveling by plane

According to the CDC, viruses tend not to spread easily on flights thanks to air circulation and filtration systems. The number of flights is limited and overcrowding is likely to happen.

Using Public Transport

Useless to say, public means of transport are riskier than cars. It is impossible to stay six feet away from other passengers, so the only way to minimize risks is to wear a mask.

Going back to work

The final—and probably most difficult to answer—is whether smart working was only an emergency measure. Or, rather, if it is here to stay. The matter is further complicated because some workplaces are safer than others, depending on the space and equipment. All you can do is use all the basic protective measures, and discuss with your employer any concerns that you may have, either about the safety of the office or the increased infection risk that the commute may cause. But for now, don’t remember to enjoy summer: you deserved it!

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