26 May Beaches Are Open. Is it Safe to Go?
While we’ve been practicing social distancing and staying home, many of us have been taking this time to get outside. Bike riding, hiking, and walking have become daily activities. Certainly, these new-to-some hobbies are healthy for the mind and body.
But what about the beach?
As beaches begin to reopen you may have a lot of questions, mainly is the beach safe during COVID-19? Here we’ll answer some of the most important questions so that you can feel confident about how and when to hit the beach again, safely.
- Can the Coronavirus survive in water?
So far, the research has shown that bleach and chlorine effectively kill the virus, so swimming pools are safe. (They were closed, however, due to difficulty maintaining social distance in them). The virus can survive in freshwater, making it possible to become infected in a lake or river. However, no research has been done on the viability of the virus in saltwater. While this may seem frightening, the virus in any of these bodies of water would be very diluted and at most beaches, the water moves quickly, reducing the risk of infection. There is still a risk, though, so proceed with caution when swimming.
- Should I wear a mask at the beach?
Wearing a mask has been recommended for everyone when in public. Masks protect people who don’t know they’re infected from transmitting the virus, and in turn, protect healthy people from getting the virus. Using a cloth mask is an effective way to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, the best way to protect yourself and others is to practice social distancing, even outside. So, yes, you can wear a mask on the beach, but it is safest to avoid areas with large groups of people and keep a safe distance from others as much as possible. If the beach is crowded, skip it, even if you have a mask. If you’re going for a walk along the beach, keep your distance and wear a mask for the best protection.
- Does the virus live on sand or beach structures, like chairs, umbrellas, and so on?
Surfaces can be contaminated with the virus. This is why the CDC recommends avoiding touching your nose, eyes, or mouth and rigorous handwashing. On some surfaces, the virus can be viable for up to 3 days, so it’s possible that beach chairs can be contaminated. If you plan to go to the beach, bring your own chairs or towels to sit on and try not to touch any surfaces. As far as sand, there’s no research yet about it being a route of transmission.
The COVID-19 pandemic is wrought with unknowns, so proceeding with caution is the best thing to do. Physical distance and sheltering in place are the most effective ways to reduce your risk of getting sick.
Outdoor activities are not as risky and are healthy for our minds and bodies. If you decide to go to the beach, keep a far distance from other people. Regularly check the CDC COVID-19 website to stay up to date on recommendations and new information. Stay safe and stay healthy.