Summer 2020 looks very different than any summer we've experienced. With the COVID-19 pandemic, you may have to make some changes to your summer routine in order to keep yourself, your family and your neighbors healthy.
Low Risk Activities
- With your family or those you have been quarantined with, enjoy a game night indoors. You can break out one of the many popular puzzles, learn a new card game (even for kids), or a board game that's family-friendly. Continue to wash your hands and if one member of your household is sick, they should sit out this turn and recover away from others.
- Now that it's nice out, head to your yard or porch for a fair-weather activity of star-gazing, bird-watching or gardening. Even just a small dose of summertime flora and fauna can be a welcome breath of fresh air. You can look for activities for the family from websites like the Smithsonian Museum, the Adler Planetarium or the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
- Enjoy a day at a local pool, lake or seaside beach — as long as you can maintain proper social distancing. The CDC notes that the virus has very little evidence of transmission through water. But this doesn't mean a pool party is a perfect summer activity during the pandemic. If you can stay at least six feet away from others at all times, avoid shared surfaces, keep your hands clean with frequent washing and wear your mask, then a day on the water can mean a good time, even this summer. Check to see if your local public lake, beach or oceanside area is open before heading out.
Medium Risk Activities
- Hiking and camping in the great outdoors can be a moderate risk, due to areas where you might encounter groups of people. Busy trails, crowded parking areas and heavily-used campgrounds mean more chances to come in contact with contaminated surfaces or to be in too-close proximity to others. Always wear your mask in public areas, wash your hands frequently and maintain social distancing. Check to see if your favorite trails are open by checking local state park websites or keeping an eye on social media if occupancy guidelines change throughout the summer. Here are some current guidelines on trails and outdoor spaces open in the Pacific Northwest, Montana and the National Parks. Always observe new guidelines and wear your mask. The CDC recommends heading to a park or trail near your home to avoid situations where you have to travel and come in contact with many new people, and to avoid crowded parks and beaches.
- Summertime means weddings, though they might be a bit smaller these days. The safer gatherings are still 10 people or less — the CDC still warns that large gatherings can lead to higher chances of spreading the virus. If you do get invited to an intimate ceremony this summer, it's a moderate risk, and still comes with the caveats that you shouldn't get within six feet of others. It might feel weird to not hug and kiss the bride and groom, but just sharing their special day is a celebration you can look forward to this summer. Wear your mask.
- Staying in a hotel can be a part of your summer plans that can continue in the world of COVID-19. NPR notes that you should bring your own disinfecting spray or wipes to clean all surfaces once you get inside your room, and avoid public spaces like the restaurant (eat some room service) or the hotel gym. Watch where you touch in public spaces (elevator buttons, handrails, door handles and countertops are easy to touch absently), and clean and wash your hands frequently. Read the CDC's guidance on cleaning and sanitizing surfaces.
- You can even plan to share a rental house with another family. If you're vacationing in a rental in a more rural area, like in the woods or in a sparsely-populated area, you can basically quarantine together in a new setting. Talk to your rental owner about their cleaning practices, and bring your own supplies to do a thorough job before you unpack. University of Chicago Hospital Epidemiologist Dr. Emily Landon suggests communicating with your group well in advance “to make sure you share the same expectations for the precautions everyone will take in the two weeks before arrival and while you're there.” And of course make sure no one in your vacation group is showing signs of illness.
- Travel trailers like RVs and motor homes can be a great way to take your safe space with you on vacation. You can look to purchase one, or even rent an RV for a trip. Depending on the model you settle on, you can bring your family pets and the whole family on an adventure. Like all spaces, you should maintain good hygiene and clean all surfaces in a rental and during your trip. Traveling poses higher risks when you stop and interact with others, such as at rest stops or gas stations, the CDC warns.
High Risk Activities
- Even if you are permitted to gather without breaking a specific law, doesn't make it no risk. Summertime gatherings like block parties, big BBQs and phased reopening events are cause for concern. Indoor gatherings like movie theaters, concerts and camps or ceremonies pose a high risk due to the lack of rapid ventilation from fresh air, the proximity of seating (sometimes fixed as in a theater) and many high-touch surfaces that can't always be cleaned between events. If you must go to such an event, wear a mask, wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your face and try to keep six feet between yourself and others. The CDC also recommends that you avoid sharing food and other personal items in closed settings.
- Outdoor sports that include a lot of high-touch surfaces or the potential for close contact present a higher risk for the summer. While a tennis match is considered a fairly low risk summer sport (with some caveats, as noted by the USTA), a team sport like basketball presents a higher risk of sharing contaminated items. Consider avoiding sports where you could increase your chances of contracting or spreading the virus to vulnerable people, including children and the elderly.
- The same goes for kid's outdoor activities where there are many shared toys, like in playgrounds and sandboxes. Public social distancing can be hard for young children who just want to go out and play. It can be easier for parents to avoid areas where they can't keep children distanced, or bring their own toys and avoid sharing with other children. The CDC notes that children are showing susceptibility to a particular COVID-19-related illness. Read more and look for signs of illness in your family so you can act quickly.