Warmer weather has set in, and with COVID-19 stay-at-home restrictions eased, people have started to venture outside to pools, beaches, trails and parks.
It’s important to follow local and state guidance that determines when and how recreational facilities may operate. We asked Nael Hasan, MD, emergency department medical director at Culpeper Medical Center, a Novant Health UVA Health System facility, for his advice about participating in common summer activities.
What precautions should I take at a swimming pool?
No evidence shows the coronavirus can be spread through water in pools, hot tubs, spas or water play areas. Proper operation and maintenance of these facilities (including disinfection with chlorine and bromine) should inactivate the virus in the water.
However, while there is ongoing community spread of COVID-19, it is important for patrons, owners and operators of these facilities to take steps to ensure health and safety:
ν Public pools may implement limits on the number of patrons allowed on the pool deck at one time and take measures to space out chairs and tables.
ν Individuals should continue to protect themselves and others, both in and out of the water, by practicing social distancing, wearing face masks when not in the pool and practicing good hand hygiene.
What precautions should I follow at the beach?
Going to the beach should be treated like going to any other social setting. Practice proper social distancing, keep group sizes as small as possible and wear protective facial masks when you’re not in the water. Bring hand sanitizer with you to clean your hands frequently.
Is hiking OK, and what steps should I take to be safe?
Hiking along a public nature trail will have a similar exposure risk and require the same precautions as going to the beach. “Going off the grid" and hiking where you’ll encounter fewer people can decrease your risk of transmission during your trek. When traveling to and from the hiking site, make sure to bring a mask and hand sanitizer and follow recommendations for social distancing and group sizes.
What steps should I take if I attend a party or barbeque at someone else’s home?
When attending an event at another’s home, make sure it is being held outside. It should also follow current recommendations by limiting the number of individuals and providing room for everyone to social distance. Use single-use utensils to serve food, bring your own beverages to drink and chairs to sit on and use a protective face mask when you’re not eating. If you have to use the restroom while visiting, make sure you have hand sanitizer and gloves to wear when touching surfaces in the home.
Are there any tips for traveling by car, train and airplane?
When traveling by car, your own vehicle is as clean as you keep it. If you stop for gas, food or lodging on a trip, all the protective recommendations apply — gloves, face mask, social distancing and hand sanitizer.
Traveling via plane or train presents the highest risk of transmission for the virus. A high level of vigilance is required to protect yourself.
Don’t take your mask off. Avoid eating and drinking unless absolutely necessary. Wear gloves during the entire time of travel and have extras to replace any that become damaged.
Use hand sanitizing wipes to clean your seat, armrests and tray table, and any items you use during travel to ensure their surfaces do not become contaminated. Avoid trains and airplanes unless there are no other options.
For updates on the 2019 novel coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. For the most up-to-date information from Novant Health UVA Health System, visit NovantHealthUVA.org/WelcomeBack.