These days, going to the grocery store feels like a luxury, let alone going to the beach. With most beaches having been closed down since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been wanting to dig their toes into the sand more than ever before.
If this sounds like you, you’re probably aware that beaches have been slowly reopening again. And as we prepare for the summer, more and more beaches will begin to allow people to sprawl out once again.
But is it risky? Really, anywhere you’re around people that you don’t know where they’ve been can be hazardous in a pandemic.
Then again, going to the beach is also good for your health in some ways, especially right now. It offers a good dosage of vitamin D and fresh air to help you relieve stress, especially after being cooped up at home for so long.
If you’re heading to the beach any time soon, try not to fret. There are plenty of ways to ensure you’re safe and sound, even at the beach. Keep these tips in mind:
Social distance—even in the water
You probably don’t plan to place your cooler down next to a stranger—they don’t want to be around you any more than you don’t want to be around them! But you should also remember to distance yourself at least six feet from strangers when you’re in the water, too. “As a precaution, I would recommend practicing social distancing in the water just as you would on land,” says Mark D. Sobsey, PhD, a research professor at University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health. “That will allow any virus that might emanate from nearby swimmers, surfers, or paddlers to dilute, disperse, and die off,” he says.
Wear a mask when you need to
You might think that since the beach is outdoors that you automatically can forgo your mask. And while if you stay at least six feet away from others, you’re likely safe, it’s still a good idea to wear it if you’re finding it’s hard to maintain distance. Though experts have found that the transmission of coronavirus more often happens indoors than outdoors, you can never be too safe—especially if it’s a particularly windy day!
Take precautions in the water
There’s no evidence thus far whether coronavirus can stay alive in saltwater, but experts are still cautioning swimmers to beware. It’s not impossible for saliva or mucus from an infected person to be surfacing around the area you’re swimming. “Infectious virus is present in both of those excretions,” says Charles Gerba, Ph.D., professor of virology and environmental science at University of Arizona. “The virus could then get into the eyes, nose, or mouth of another swimmer.”
Go before you leave the house
We hate to sound like your mom, but ask yourself if you need to “go” before you leave the house. Chances are, even if the beach is open, the restrooms may be closed, forcing you to have to exit the beach every time you need to go to the bathroom. Well, it’s better than having to deal with potentially contaminated doorknobs, toilet handles and faucets, we suppose!
Know your local beach’s rules
Not all beaches are created equal—especially right now. Depending on where you live, your beach might have different rules than your friend’s beach in a different state or even town. Be sure to check the rules before heading off—many are capping their visitors at certain amounts, shutting down concession stands or only allowing access to certain areas.
Remember normal beach safety
With all the coronavirus precautions, don’t forget about the things we used to worry about! Those are still important, too. You know—lathering up on sunscreen (and reapplying every couple hours), staying hydrated with your own water, and wearing protective clothing (like a wide-brimmed hat).
Will you be heading to the beach this summer? What safety tips will you be keeping in mind?