How to social distance while being outdoors

Staying home is essential for slowing down the transmission of COVID-19, but mental and physical health still need to be maintained. One way to do this is through outdoor activities, but an infectious diseases expert at Baylor College of Medicine said it’s still important to follow social distancing practices during outdoor time.

“The most likely way COVID-19 transmits from person to person is through the spread of respiratory droplets, either directly through close proximity to someone with the virus or indirectly through contamination of surfaces and objects,” said Dr. Jill Weatherhead, assistant professor of infectious diseases at the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor. “Keeping an adequate physical distance from others and practicing frequent hand hygiene will help prevent the virus from spreading.”

Weatherhead offers a few tips on how to enjoy outdoor play and exercise without risking the spread of coronavirus:

  • Avoid heavily populated areas. If you are near people, try to keep a distance of at least 6 feet.
  • Avoid handshaking or close physical contact with others.
  • All outdoor activities should be done individually or with a household member – not in large groups.
  • Avoid engaging in group exercise classes or team sport activities that bring you in close contact with others. Keep social distancing rules even while exercising outside.
  • Avoid touching public objects like water fountains and playgrounds. In addition to close physical contact, potential ways the virus can spread include touching contaminated surfaces and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Bring all the materials you will need from home while you are out, such as your own water, blankets, exercise equipment and hand sanitizer so you are not relying on public use.
  • After returning inside, immediately wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Stay home and avoid public places if you are ill – including outdoor spaces.

“Doing activities outside in parks is still fine to do in Houston and is supported by the ‘stay home, work safe’ initiative,” Weatherhead said. “However, it’s important to maintain appropriate social distancing; including staying at home if you are sick, washing your hands frequently, keeping a distance of six feet from others and not using public equipment.”

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