5 Ways to Stay Safe and Protect Others as Public Places Reopen (And 1 Thing That Won’t Help)

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April 19, 2024 at 2:38AM UTC

As the world is adapting to what is now the “new normal,” Fairygodboss wants to be there for you every step of the way. Keep reading for timely advice and join our Navigating the New Normal group for continued support.

After weeks of shelter-in-place orders, many states are reopening public places. While each locale has its own way of approaching these reopenings (and while some places are holding off altogether), there are some general (and medically advised) guidelines we can all follow to stay safe if and when we start to go out. 

First, don’t assume that COVID-19 is no longer an existential threat. 

When deciding how and when to go out to reopened parks and stores, remember that most officials are still cautioning people to consider the dangers of COVID-19. That includes taking measures like the ones below to limit the contraction and spread of the disease, and, in some places, generally limiting activity. 

1. Continue to wear a mask in public and to wash your hands. 

Wearing face masks in public is still a CDC guideline and in some places, they are mandatory (or will be made mandatory soon).  Wearing one while going to stores or even while going outdoors can help slow the spread of COVID-19, especially in in areas of significant community-based transmission. Similarly, being extra cautious while washing your hands for at least 20 seconds is still recommended by the CDC to stop the spread of coronavirus. If you are outside of your home, be careful not to touch your face and to wash your hands regularly, especially when you come into contact with public surfaces. 

2. Continue to social distance in open spaces, stores and restaurants. 

When stores and restaurants reopen, most officials are calling for them to be kept at partial capacity — and for those inside to use this space to social distance. Try to remain at least six feet away from other patrons while you're shopping or picking up food, avoid crowded aisles or counters and continue to social distance while you're in line. While the open air of outdoor spaces allows for less spreading, it's still smart to keep your distance from other park-goers, according to experts who spoke to Buzzfeed News

3. If you’re going to go to the park or beach, plan trips that allow for minimal contact.

Speaking of staying six feet apart while you're outside, those same doctors who spoke to Buzzfeed News suggest setting yourself up for social distancing success by avoiding peak park times or avoiding crowded outdoor spaces in general. If you're planning to head to the park or beach, choose a location that isn't swamped, plan to arrive and leave at a safe hour, and try to limit your contact with groups of people on your way to and from your destination. For example, if you can only access your local beach by taking a crowded beach access or pier, consider other options. 

4. If you’re going to take part in commercial activity, avoid touching products you don’t plan to purchase. 

While we should all be washing our hands routinely, avoid touching unnecessary surfaces while out shopping — even if that surface is a piece of produce you want to check out or a pair of shoes you'd like to try on. This helps lower your chances of spreading the disease or from contracting it by coming into contact with someone else's germs. 

5. Only invite friends and family to meet in public places if you plan to social distance. 

Doctors say it's OK to see your family and friends — if you keep a healthy distance. Inviting the people you love to a park or other green-space is a great alternative to going into their home, but be sure you can stay at least six feet away from each other. Also, be sure you're abiding by your local congregation rules: In some areas, groups are still encouraged not to sit or stand still in public outdoor areas. 

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