It’s officially beach season, and you may be wondering if it’s safe to hit the sand with friends and family — and a whole lot of strangers. And while we could all use a dose of mood-boosting sunshine, and the shops and restaurants that cater to beachgoers could use a financial lift, it’s completely natural to have concerns. But there’s a glimmer of good news: Shores across the country are opening up with special guidelines to help ensure visitors stay healthy. In fact, Harvard medical professor James Whitney tells Travel + Leisure that a beach visit is okay, but only “with a lot of precautionary measures that no one would normally want to undertake at the beach.”
Of course, it’s all about social distancing. You may have already seen images of people sitting inside marked circles placed on the sand to help visitors properly space themselves out. However, not all beaches will provide this set-up, so be prepared to stake out your own bit of sand. Not only is it safer, but it’s a great excuse to create your own mini, private beach. Says Durland Fish, a professor at the Yale School of Public Health, to CN Traveler: “If you can maintain six feet apart from people who you don’t know, it’s pretty safe to be outside anywhere. The air is always moving. It disperses any virus particles that might be in the air.” That said, it’s still too soon to ditch your new favorite accessory. “You should wear masks even if that gives you a bit of an unusual tan line,” says Dr. Whitney.
New rules to stay safe at the beach
Each city and state will have their own specific set of rules, so be sure to do your research before packing up your beach towel and sunscreen. But some mandates you might see include beaches limiting their capacity to 50 percent and organized games and contact sports being prohibited, per TODAY. Other beaches will allow swimming, surfing, and jogging, but not sunbathing or picnicking. Basically, the guidelines are designed to prevent crowds and any close contact between strangers.
To be extra-safe, there are also a few measures you can take for yourself and family. If you’ve got them, pack up hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, suggests Health. And do your best to have all you might need with you — borrowing from your neighbors is a big no-no. But you do have the go-ahead to take a dip: “The virus is not going to live very well in salty water,” says Joseph Khabbaza, a pulmonary medicine specialist at Cleveland Clinic. “The water-borne spread has not been shown at all.”
Bottomline, if you follow your beach’s guidelines and don’t fall into a high-risk group (older folks and those with underlying medical conditions), there’s no reason not to enjoy a much-needed break away from your home.
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