Many Americans will head to the beach during Memorial Day weekend. While it’s tempting to kick back and relax on the sand, don’t lower your guard on social distancing and wearing a mask, say experts.
“Please, if you are going out to our parks, please practice social distancing. Please wear something covering your face,” said Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey, a state that has officially opened its beaches.
According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, you may want to think twice before heading out to public places this weekend. With crowds gathering on beaches and boardwalks, if you do go, make sure you bring a mask — or two — and use them strategically.
Expert Dr. Eric Sachinwalla, medical director of Infection Prevention and Control at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia said if the beach is empty, there’s no need to don a mask.
“But if there’s lots of people walking around, out of precaution, you should be wearing the mask as much as possible, even if your towel is six feet from others,” he told the Inquirer.
Always wear a mask when you may encounter others, such as heading to the restroom, boardwalk or food stands, to avoid catching the droplets from an unexpected cough or sneeze.
You don’t need to wear a mask while in the water but you should observe the same social distancing rules as on land.
According to the Los Angeles Times, there is very little risk of contracting COVID-19 from water, but swimmers should still stay separated and take care before and after entering the water.
If you do need to reuse your mask during the outing, make sure you keep it clean and stored in a paper bag that allows proper ventilation. Wash your hands with a sanitizer before removing the mask without touching the front, said the Inquirer. Repeat the handwashing after removing and storing your face covering. Consider bringing reserve masks in case yours gets soiled with sunscreen or soaked in water.
“It’s never a bad idea to have a backup,” noted Sachinwalla, who added that if the masks, especially cloth masks, become wet or soiled, and you don’t have a backup, it’s time to head home, he told the Inquirer.
Also, never poke a hole through your mask to drink beverages through a straw. Making an opening destroys its integrity. Before drinking or eating, remove the mask carefully and don’t push it down around your neck or up onto your forehead where potential pathogens can make contact with your mouth or eyes.
To make wearing a mask more bearable, choose a cotton fabric that “breathes,” say experts. But if you still start to sweat, switch out your mask to avoid developing a rash.
You can remove your mask on the drive to and from the beach, according to the Inquirer, and make your outings shorter. But always stay protected.
“Being outside doesn’t make everything magically disappear,” said Sachinwalla. “If there’s a large number of people, there’s still a higher risk of potentially being around someone who’s sick and doesn’t know it or who doesn’t care.”
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