The COVID-19 pandemic has been part of our lives for many weeks now. With summer and warmer days coming up, and with reopening plans in many provinces and territories, we are tempted to go back to “normal”. As provincial governments are putting in place reopening plans, it is easy to forget that we are still going through a pandemic.
Here we have gathered some guidelines to choose safe activities, and help you identify those that would be unsafe.
Guidelines for Safe Activities
Even though the pandemic is a global health issue, reopening plans vary everywhere. Although the COVID-19 responses might be different, the principles are the same. The Government of Japan has released a comprehensive guide for safe activities: Avoid The 3Cs. Simply put, it advises to avoid Closed spaces, Crowded places, and Close-contact settings to practice safe activities during COVID-19.
- Avoid closed spaces, especially where there is limited ventilation. Whenever possible, keep the windows open and use fans to allow air flows. In rooms without windows, make sure the ventilation system works properly and that there is enough space to stay two metres (six feet) from each other.
- Avoid crowded places. Practicing physical distancing is key to preventing new cases of COVID-19. At all times, keep two metres (six feet) between yourself and other people, except those living with you. Elevators are a good example of a small space that can easily become crowded. If possible, avoid elevators and take the stairs. If taking the stairs is not an option, make sure you are alone in the elevator.
- Avoid close-contact settings. Whenever possible, keep two metres (six feet) between yourself and others. In some situations, it can be hard to keep a distance from other people, like in public transportation, in which case you should wear a mask.
Additionally, you should practice hygiene measures, like washing your hands often for 20 seconds with soap and disinfecting surfaces that are frequently touched.
Ideas of Safe Activities
Outdoor activities are ideal as long as you are able to physically distance while doing so. Many provinces are now allowing outside gatherings and are reopening national parks. The following activities are safe if you make sure to follow the guidelines above:
- Have an outside picnic with friends or family. Make sure that everyone is sitting at least two metres (six feet) from other families, that you do not share drinks, food, plates, or utensils, and that you wash your hands. If you have a dog, do not let others pet them.
- Go for a hike! Being in nature can have a positive effect on mental health, which is particularly important now, as we know that it can be affected by confinement. Keep a safe distance from other hikers and enjoy!
- Exercise outside. You can run, cycle and train. With people from your household, it is safe to practice team sports, like basketball, but you should avoid doing so with people you have not been confined with. Wash your hands often, avoid touching your face and follow physical distancing.
- Go to the beach or enjoy a swimming pool. It is safe to swim with others, as long as you keep a distance from them. Indeed, experts assessed the risk as low since the virus is diluted in water and does not represent a risk. However, it can be hard to physical distance in a pool, especially for kids. Beware of shouting in the water, as shouting has been found to lead to transmission of the virus through the saliva droplets produced. It is also important to avoid sharing swimming gear and pool toys.
NPR has released an article that will give you ideas and risk assessment pointers for common outdoor activities.
Wanting to go back to “normal” summer activities is completely healthy. For many Canadians, winter can be emotionally draining, so when summer comes, we cannot wait to enjoy the outdoors and get a good dose of sun. While you do so, remember that we are still going through the COVID-19 pandemic, and that everyone has to adjust to our “new normal”.
Enjoy your summer and stay safe!
For more valuable health information, visit our Ask the Expert page.