How to Handle Social Distancing at the Park
Social distancing has changed the way people live. But as many areas began to reopen on a limited basis, returning to some semblance of normalcy became possible.
Cabin fever has affected men, women and children since stay-at-home guidelines were issued in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. So it's no surprise that homebound adults and kids rejoiced when local parks reopened. Though parks may have reopened, the National Recreation and Park Association notes that it's still imperative that park visitors adhere to social distancing guidelines in place at the park.
Avoid parks if you're exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. Anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 is urged to stay home and avoid public places, including parks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that people with these symptoms or combinations of these symptoms may have COVID-19:
· Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
In addition, the CDC says people with at least two of these symptoms may have COVID-19:
· Repeated shaking with chills
· Muscle pain
· Sore throat
· New loss of taste or smell
Follow the CDC guidelines on personal hygiene prior to visiting parks or trails. Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before leaving your home to visit a park. If you sneeze or blow your nose in route to the park, apply a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol before getting out of your car. While at the park, wear a cloth face covering that fits snugly but comfortably against the side of your face. Make sure it can be secured with ties or ear loops and allows for breathing without restriction. In hot weather, avoid visiting the park if you do not think you can move around and breathe comfortably while wearing a mask.
Share the trail. Share the trails and walking paths with others, letting them know when you plan to pass and giving them ample space to pass if they need to. This includes following CDC guidelines on social distancing, which recommend maintaining a minimum of 6 feet from other persons at all times.
Use the restroom before leaving your home. Many parks are limiting access to public restrooms to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. So it's wise for park visitors to relieve themselves at home before going to the park.
Bring your own water. The NRPA notes that water fountains likely won't be accessible at the park. So visitors should bring their own water so they can stay hydrated during their hikes.
Visiting a favorite park while social distancing will be different. But there are many ways to stay safe and still enjoy the park for all it has to offer.