With lockdowns mostly lifted and summer heat already bearing down, many people are looking forward to a relaxing beach vacation.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention still advises that staying home is the safest choice – especially for those who are sick or were exposed to COVID-19 recently. And the virus continues to be a serious threat to the elderly and people with certain health conditions.
Still, most experts say that the virus is much less likely to spread outdoors, and it dies relatively fast in direct sunlight. So for those looking for a change of scenery without ignoring safety, we put together some tips to help keep you and your family healthy, whether you plan to stay in a condo, hotel, or beach house.
1. Know the Rules: Call ahead or read up on the regulations for the area you plan to visit. The current rules differ in Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi and vary even from county to county and beach to beach. Many beaches still limit beach gatherings to 10 people and require social distancing, and some communities restrict beach access during certain hours.
2. Stay 6 feet apart
3. Ask the hotel or property rental company about its cleaning procedures. The CDC says that the virus spreads much more easily from person to person than it does from surfaces, but it doesn’t hurt to find out how well your temporary home will be cleaned and sanitized before you arrive. Wash the sheets when you arrive, if possible – even if they already look laundered – and bring some sanitizing spray or wipes to use on high-touch surfaces.
4. Have food and groceries delivered. Avoid the potential exposure, save yourself the shopping time, and avoid potentially crowded restaurants and bars altogether.
5. Take the stairs. If you are staying in a high-rise condo or hotel, understand that it’s difficult to maintain a 6-foot distance in elevators. So consider taking the stairs instead; not only will it provide some exercise, it will save you time waiting on busy elevators. If you must take the elevators, mask up!
In addition to these steps, continue to follow the same safety practices you would at home, including wearing a mask when you can’t maintain social distance, washing your hands or using hand sanitizer often, covering your coughs and sneezes, avoid touching your face, and isolating anyone who shows possible COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever.
“At the end of the day, it’s important to still make memories and enjoy time with our families this summer,” says Ellen Eaton, MD, assistant professor in the UAB Division of Infectious Diseases. “We can still accomplish that, but just in a way that keeps the health and safety of ourselves and others top of mind.”