With a long holiday weekend around the corner, Americans are wondering if it is safe to head to the water.
Memorial Day weekend marks the start of summer so it is a traditional pastime to bring the family seaside and enjoy the physical and mental benefits of time spent on the beach. But experts warn, despite the fact some shores have opened to the public, precautions still need to be taken to avoid contracting the coronavirus.
Dr. Marissa Levine, director of the Center for Leadership in Public Health Practice at the University of South Florida in Tampa, told Today that going to the beach "lulls us into this sense of normality, particularly if around you, people are just acting like nothing is going on."
NBC medical correspondent Dr. John Torres added, while there is plenty of space on a beach to observe the 6-foot social distancing guide, he is concerned people, especially after downing a few cocktails, will lower their guard — and their face masks — and socialize indiscriminately.
Here are expert tips on how to "beach it" safely this weekend:
- Social distancing is still key, despite the fact the virus will most likely be diluted by fresh air and the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Stay home if you are in a high-risk category or you have symptoms.
- Follow the guidelines of your beach. Some states limit beach goers to 50% capacity while others prohibit chairs, sunbathing, and contact sports like volleyball. Walking, running, and swimming are O.K. for most of the reopened beaches. But observe social distancing even when you are in the water, experts told Today, since we do not know for sure if the virus survives in water.
- Bring a face mask just in case your find yourself in the proximity of other beach goers, while walking along the shore on in the parking lot. According to Consumer Reports, you are probably safe in the fresh ocean air if you stay away from other people, but bring a mask just to be prepared.
- Do not plan on using beach facilities. Use the bathroom at home before you visit the beach and do not plan on staying all day.
- Practice beach safety basics. Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, says Consumer Reports, and reapply every two hours after swimming or heavy sweating.
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