How risky are your favorite summer activities?
By Bill O'Neill
Cape Codders are preparing for a summer like no other – the first one after months of social distancing. Our employees are among them.
“Summer is starting and restrictions are being lifted, but whatever your favorite activities might be, it’s important to know the risks,” said Ana Paula Oppenheimer, MD, an infectious disease expert affiliated with Cape Cod and Falmouth hospitals.
After nearly half a year of dealing with the pandemic, there are still things that are unknown, but much has been learned, she said.
“The number one thing to consider, whatever you’re doing or wherever you’re going, is the amount of people in that place,” she said. “The less crowded, the better. In general, outdoor places are safer than indoors, and larger spaces where we can abide by the guidelines of social distancing are better. Wearing a mask is important, and so is washing your hands.”
Here, in her own words, are her views on risk factors to keep in mind for some popular summer activities.
Going to the beach
Beaches are usually big enough to keep distancing between groups. It’s going to be totally different from what we are used to, where we basically sat towel to towel. We cannot do that any longer.
Backyard swimming pools
We're beginning to do some backyard visiting, which is OK because you can put chairs six feet from each other and still talk and enjoy people’s company. If you have a few people in your pool, that’s totally fine. You can still keep distancing. The more people you invite, the worse the risk. If you have elderly people who are at higher risk, then they should definitely not be invited to pool parties.
That’s fine because the players don’t get too close to each other.
Playing mini golf
That’s too close together.
That would be totally fine. Just keep a mask handy in case somebody gets close to you. It's one of the great sports you can use to keep active.
Going to playgrounds
It’s very hard to keep children from playing with each other. Humans are built on social interaction, and now we're teaching our children, ‘Don't interact.’ If you use some guidelines that the children and adults understand, I think it can be done, but I would be cautious.
Going for a hike in the woods
That's a great idea. Very safe.
Walking on Main Street sidewalks?
Keep your distance and wear your mask. When we breathe, our exhalations may have agents of disease, including viruses. Just be aware of that and try to avoid the airstream of other people.
Drive-in movie theaters
I love it. I think I will go because it’s large and it's open. Most of the time, you are in your own environment with people you know.