This post is also available in: French
Summer is here, but you may feel like you are not fully able to appreciate it in the ways you did in years past because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Staying safe and flattening the curve remains a top priority around the world and is not something to take lightly. But that doesn’t mean you cannot still have fun in the warm outdoors during the summertime while still protecting yourself from the virus.
Your social bubble
Here in Canada, many provinces have created social circles or bubbles. What that means is that you only interact with a limited number of people who live outside of your household. This news comes as restrictions start to lift as the coronavirus cases slowly lower. That bubble can be up to 10 people. It is best to be cautious about doing so, of course, so that the positive cases do not rise again. And be extra careful if you have more susceptible to getting the virus or live with someone who is more susceptible.
This is in Canada, and it may be different where you live, depending on what the virus numbers look like in your region. Always follow your local guidelines when interacting with others, for everyone’s safety.
Outdoors rather than indoors
You likely already know this, but it’s important to state in these warmer months when you probably want to spend more time outdoors than indoors. The parks and beaches are calling you, but you worry that you’ll catch the coronavirus.
Recent research reveals that the risks outside are less than indoors, provided you are with your household and physical distancing from others. The virus likes inside spaces where people are close together.
Of course, that does not mean to head outdoors with a crowd of people to the beach. It’s the big groups that are unsafe and high risk, which makes sense as the virus spreads via droplets that travel through the air when a person sneezes, coughs or speaks. No wonder the risk of spreading the coronavirus is high indoors in poorly-ventilated areas like jails, prisons and mean-processing plants.
Thus, outdoors is more favourable than indoors this summer during COVID-19, and the fewer the number of people you’re around the better. Also, if someone is showing signs of being sick, stay away from them.
These words also have an underlying message. Be cognizant of your surroundings. If you are in a place where it is difficult to stay 6 feet away, then wear a mask and be careful. Avoid it if possible.
Yes, you can still visit loved ones this summer but stay that 6 feet away from those who are outside of your household (or “social circle” in Canada). It’s a new normal.
Staying healthy during the COVID-19 summer
In addition to physical distancing and frequent hand washing (or using hand sanitizer), you’re resisting touching your face. As well, you will want to keep your immune system strong.
Exercise and eating right are key to doing that, as is getting enough sleep. If you’re suffering from sleep deprivation, then these tips for How to Sleep Better are helpful.
Giving the body the chance to recharge while sleeping is going to help fight off an infection, as well a healthy diet that includes a lot of fruits and vegetables. Remember to drink plenty of water too.
In terms of exercise, going for a walk, run, or bike ride can all be relatively low-risk activities. For sports, stay six feet away from others. Remember though that low-risk does not mean zero risk.
Wearing masks in the humid summer
The heavy humidity of summer awaits you. While it might be tempting to take off the mask until the cooler weather of fall comes, that’s not a wise response.
Ideally, you’ll wear a mask and continue to physical distance throughout the summer of COVID-19. If you’re not sure if those two things are necessary, then you will believe it after reading this study. Both the mask and social distancing are effective protective measures.
That’s not to say that wearing the mask isn’t uncomfortable. It can be difficult to breathe, and sweat starts to form on your forehead and upper lip. That makes sense if the summer heat is getting trapped inside the mask.
The problem here is that when you breathe, the body cools off, so wearing a mask makes you warm very quickly. That’s even worse on a humid day.
The risks of overheating might have you feeling anxious this July and August. You might worry about getting dizzy and fainting. If you feel yourself getting too hot, then take off the mask but make sure you’re 6 feet away from anyone before doing so.
If you’re in a crowd, endure the heat and keep the mask on until you’re far enough away. Take a break from the hot sun by going indoors too, if possible.
On a related note, if it is especially warm one day, then stay indoors where it is a cooler and more comfortable temperature. If the morning is less warm, then make that the time when you go outdoors.
It can also be helpful to wear a mask that has excellent breathability. Cotton material can be a good choice, and it is comfortable too. It should fit well, without feeling too tight, and be washable without becoming malformed when it dries.
Rethinking leisure time in the summer of COVID-19
If your summer plans got cancelled, then you’re no doubt feeling disappointed about that. Many people had tickets to festivals and other events that got cancelled or postponed, and others had booked trips overseas.
But rather than getting depressed about it, get creative about how best to enjoy the sunny months. Rather than planning for a long-distance trip, perhaps instead you will prepare for a backyard fun day or a visit to a park close by.
You also might try to take time to do a certain hobby, such as photography. Take photos of your favourite plants that are blooming around your neighbourhood, for example. Take a kayak ride or go for a walk on a nature trail.
Restaurants are opening up too with social distance requirements, and that means that there are half the tables open so you can maintain the six feet distance from others. Deciding what is safe is your decision. Ideally, look for outdoor seating, rather than staying indoors in an area without windows or good ventilation as you probably don’t want to wear a mask while eating and drinking.
What about malls? There are outdoor and indoor ones. The outdoor type has a lower risk than indoor, typically, and the fewer people there, the better. Also, know what you’re looking for, get it, and leave, rather than wandering aimlessly around.
Wear your mask too while at the mall. If it’s the shopping itself that you enjoy so much, then do it online and have fun from the safety of home.
If you’re seeking travel further away, then turn on your computer and check out live streams of wildlife. You can visit a tropical reef aquarium, for example. Or, take a virtual tour of a museum or historic building.
As things start to open up, you might take a trip close-by. If you do so, make sure you prepare before leaving home this summer by packing hand sanitizer and masks. Also, be aware that public washrooms are hard to come by right now. Walk or take your car when possible, and only take public transportation if it is essential.
What about garage sales during the coronavirus summer?
If you are a fan of deals and like buying used goods because that’s eco-friendlier than purchasing brand new, then you’re likely a garage sale enthusiast. But, are they still happening this summer?
Garage sales are challenging as they make it difficult to maintain a 6 feet distance. However, for everyone’s safety, you must do so. Even if there are lineups, be sure to keep that distance.
If you are holding the garage sale, limit the number of people there to 10, at the most. Also, set it up so that it takes place outside of the garage, rather than within it.
You will have to sanitize the mutual surfaces often, as well, during the event. Explain to people who attend the sale that you would appreciate if they do not touch any item unless they are ready to buy it.
When handling money, consider wearing gloves as it’s hard to know who touched it. Rather than taking the cash directly from a person, ask them to put it on a surface and you will take it from there.
Finally, if you are not feeling well, then do not have the garage sale. Put a sign up too that asks people not to attend the garage sale if they are sick.
Final words on the summer of COVID-19, you, and fun
This year’s summer will be different than any experienced before, and there is no getting around that. However, there are ways to still have fun, without risk anyone’s safety. It just takes planning and consideration.
Spending time with those in your household and maintaining a physical distance with friends and family can help you to stay social for your mental health and enjoy the warm weather too.
This post is also available in: French