More than half of U.S. states are partially reopening nonessential businesses, but experts warn it's not the time to let your guard down.
It's still imperative to exercise caution, said Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and visiting professor at George Washington University Milken Institute of Public Health. She recommends being very selective in the places you visit, choosing one option daily so you reduce your exposure to other people and lower the risk of spreading infection of the novel coronavirus.
Here are tips on how to safely navigate public places:
- Restaurants. While wearing a mask isn't optimal when you are eating at a restaurant, try to choose an outside table and sit at least six feet away from other diners. Make sure that servers are wearing face masks and that the tables are spread far enough apart, Dr. David Aronoff, director of Vanderbilt University Medical Center's Division of Infectious Disease, told CNN.
- Beaches and parks. Spending time outdoors is an excellent way to de-stress, said Aronoff, but make sure you can walk or run while maintaining a safe distance from others. Avoid group games or sports, he said, that require close contact.
- Gyms. Gyms are risky business when it comes to following social distancing rules. Wen advises using treadmills or other cardio equipment spaced six feet apart. According to Consumer Reports, it's also wise to visit the gym during off-peak hours when there are fewer members. Wipe down equipment before and after each use with a disinfectant wipe or spray. As always, wash your hands thoroughly when you are done with a machine or weight, and keep your hands away from your face.
- Salons. It's impossible to observe the six-foot distancing rule when you are having your hair or nails done in a salon, notes CNN. Make sure that the stations are spaced apart and that employees wear masks and gloves. Also ensure that equipment is disinfected between clients.
- Public transportation and shared rides. Wen said that traveling with others should be avoided, but if you must, choose times when vehicles are least crowded. Be aware of every surface you touch and avoid touching your face until you have washed your hands.
- Airports. CNN noted that airports are not as busy right now but they have fewer staff, so be prepared for long wait times. Wear your mask unless asked to remove it by a TSA officer. Stay away from other passengers ready to board and bring your own food, as many of the restaurants in terminals are closed.
- Clinics. Many clinics are restarting nonessential health care visits. Sit at least six feet away from people in the waiting room and don't touch magazines or other items that may have been handled by others. Go solo, leaving children at home to limit the number of people inside the room. Always call your physician's office before walking in, as he or she may want to assess any symptoms before granting you an appointment.
- Polling places. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages voting by mail, if possible. If you are voting in person, stay apart from other voters and use alcohol-based hand sanitizers before and after touching a machine or completing your paper ballot.
- Post office. You can perform many services online, including buying stamps, says CNN. Maintain distancing and be aware that employees may interact behind "sneeze guards," barriers that the USPS has installed across the country.
- Grocery stores. While many stores have remained open during the crisis, it's still important to follow the protocol established. Bring your list, wear a mask, wipe down shopping carts with a disinfectant, and follow the flow of traffic. Many stores have placed arrows on the floor to help you navigate safely.
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