Summer typically entails weekends spent at the beach or pool, outdoor concerts, and spontaneous getaways with friends. Well, its clear Summer 2020 isn't like any other summer you've likely experienced. The coronavirus pandemic is still a huge concern, and in some states (see: Florida, Arizona, California, North Carolina) infection rates are still skyrocketing. So, despite the fact that some cities are slowly opening back up, it's important to know how to social distance with friends safely this summer.
Before you make any plans, be aware that coming in contact with people will increase your risk of contracting COVID-19. "There’s no zero-risk way to interact with people who don’t live in your home, unless you’re wearing protective equipment and doing a variety of things your everyday person isn’t going to do outside a medical setting," Michael Knight, MD, MSHP, Assistant Professor of Medicine and the Patient Safety Officer at The George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates, tells TZR.
But that's not to say you need to completely isolate yourself this summer. If you're cautious about the ways you and your loved ones are hanging out, you can still see them. In preparation for your excursion bring along a few staples to have in reach. According to the CDC, "keep these items on hand when venturing out: a cloth face covering, tissues, and a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol, if possible." To ensure your social life isn't harming yourself or others, below find nine tips to know when seeing people this summer.
How To Social Distance With Friends: Practice Proper Hygiene
Dr. Georgine Nanos, Physician & CEO of Kind Health Group in San Diego, says "The important thing to remember is we need to go back to the basics that we’ve all learned over the last four months, which is that we need to wash our hands as frequently as possible. And if that’s not possible then use hand sanitizer or hand sanitizer wipes."
How To Social Distance With Friends: Limit The Amount Of People You're With
"You’re really thinking about ways to reduce your risk of transmission when you interact with other people," Dr Knight says. Meaning, consider limiting the number of people that you interact with to groups between five and 10. "Every additional person you interact with is going to slightly increase your risk, because that person could possibly be transmitting the virus."
How To Social Distance With Friends: Keep Wearing A Mask
This might seem like common sense at this stage in the pandemic, but experts reiterate the importance of wearing a mask. "Early on, we didn’t realize the impact of mask wearing, but as every week has gone on we’ve seen the tremendous benefit of wearing them," Dr. Nanos explains. "Especially in situations where people are COVID-19 positive and they’re exposed, wearing a mask has really protected everyone around them." A mask is especially essential when in transit or on trips to the grocery store, Dr. Knight notes. And, if you're going to take it off, he says to make sure you're with a small group of friends so that the risk can be reduced.
How To Social Distance With Friends: Don't See Anyone Who Feels Ill
If you're having people over, make sure you encourage them to not stop by if they feel ill, or if they've been around someone who has been feeling ill, Dr. Knight recommends. "It may take a few days for you to feel sick if you've been exposed to someone, but that doesn't mean you haven't transmitted the virus."
How To Social Distance With Friends: Avoid Events With Large Groups Of People
Events with large groups of people, especially indoors, should be skipped this summer. "When you do want to socialize with your friends, you’ll want to choose areas where it's not going to be too crowded," Dr Knight advises. And he says wherever you decide to go, make sure you can keep at least six feet distance between your group and other people.
How To Social Distance With Friends: Get Active
"You can meet your family or friends at the beach to take a 30-minute to one-hour brisk walk wearing your mask, of course," Dr. NaNotchka M. Chumley, Family Medicine Physician in Los Angeles and member of the Executive Board of Black Women Physicians, tells TZR. And if you want to be a little more active, she suggests skating or riding a bike with your crew.
How To Social Distance With Friends: Stay Outside, If Possible
If you're hosting a Friday night hangout, aim to keep the party outdoors. "In an outdoor setting, there’s a lot more air movement and ventilation so the risk is lower than if you were interacting with them in an indoor environment," Dr. Knight notes. Whether you have a porch, patio, backyard, or patio, interacting outdoors over indoors is preferred. And if you're planning on eating, the CDC recommends asking guests to bring their own food and drinks.
How To Social Distance With Friends: Research Before You Go To A Restaurant
If you're thinking about sitting down at a restaurant, the CDC suggests checking out its website and social media to see if they have updated information related to any COVID-19 safety guidelines. Additionally, Dr. Knight recommends making sure the servers and employees are all wearing masks. And if possible, choose outdoor seating as it has better ventilation than an indoor environment. Once you sit down with your group, ensure you're at least six feet away from other parties.
How To Social Distance With Friends: Take Extra Caution When Engaging With New People
The CDC notes that associating with new people (like those who don’t live with you) will raise your risk, too. So the best approach to this is to be overly cautious. "I think we have to pretty much assume everyone has it, and that’ll increase our level of vigilance about protecting ourselves if we can do that," Dr. Nanos recommends. And she says there's so much asymptomatic infection, you can't assume someone doesn't have it. "I wouldn't hug and kiss this person or shake their hand, I would use the same precautions as you would if you're going to the grocery store."
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support.