Many places are slowly starting to open here and with that means more people will be outside over time. Some states have allowed for parks to still be open as long as social distancing and health precautions are followed. As others slowly reopen and everyone is allowed in parks, social distancing will still be important to follow while we get through this pandemic. To be able to spend time outdoors is important for everyone’s health as long as guidelines are being followed.
Social distancing in parks is possible if planned accordingly. In order to enjoy your nature walk safely, start with these few tips:
- Stay home if you feel sick.
- Use the restroom before you go! It is likely that restrooms will still be closed for a while.
- Pack items such as hand sanitizer, wipes, and your mask if many people are out.
- Bring your reusable water bottle because water fountains will be out of order. Also pack a few snacks you can throw in your bag and keep trash to a minimum.
- Check your local and state ordinances for the most up to date recommendations on park and trail use.
- Know which trail you are going to take by carrying a map with you either via your phone or print it out. The welcome centers will probably still be closed, so you might not be able to get a map out at the park.
- Pack a lunch in your reusable lunch box if you know you will be out for a while, so you have something you can eat when you get back to your car. Having a picnic at tables is not currently permitted, but you may be able to find a spot in a grassy area out of the way.
What should you do while you are out at the park?
- If it seems too crowded, try to find another park or trail close by.
- To maintain social distancing while on your nature walk, be sure to be at least 6 feet away from others.
- If you need to pass a group of people, ask if they can step to the side while you pass by them; single file. Same applies if they need to pass you; step aside and let them pass by.
- Some states are requiring or recommending the use of masks while out at parks. Bring yours if it is recommended or required.
- Follow CDC guidelines to cover coughs and sneezes with your sleeve or elbow while out.
- Do not leave any trace of you being there. This means take all of your trash back home with you. If you are not already a zero waste family, this is a good opportunity to practice zero waste while out on your walk.
What should you do when you leave the park?
- Sanitize your hands as you get back to the car.
- Sanitize your items that you may have touched regularly while out walking.
- Wash your hands as soon as you get home for at least 20 seconds.
- You should think about changing out of your clothes and washing them when you get in from being outside. You should do this whether you were around people or not (It does not hurt to take extra precautions).
- If you are able, take a shower to wash off all dirt and germs from being outside.
Something to think about when planning your park or trail trip is the time of day that may be busier than others. Weekends can become very busy especially if the days are nice. If it is possible to go during the week, do that. That way you will not have to worry about big crowds; remember trails are only so wide. If you can only go on the weekend then think about going early.
What if you live somewhere where parks or trails are not close by? What if the park or trail you plan to go to is usually too packed to practice social distancing? Honestly, you still have options. You can start by just walking around your neighborhood block. If that is not possible and if your state permits it, travel a little bit further to a park or trail that is usually not a high traffic area. If you head out to a park and it is usually not busy, but for some reason it is that day find another park/trail close by.
Is social distancing in our future?
Honestly, until the spread slows or our communities become immune to the virus, social distancing might be recommended for a while. The grocery stores might still keep lines outside with customers waiting to get in to shop. Pickup orders at restaurants and stores might be more common and our parks and trails may still require social distancing. Who really knows though?
All we know right now is how to attempt to practice safe social distancing while we get out and enjoy mother earth and all her beauty. Fresh air and sunlight are so important for our physical and mental health. Even though there are health precautions put in place, at least we are still able to enjoy the outdoors.
Let’s be healthy and stay safe
Having our local parks and trails open is a great thing for everyone. Not only does it still allow for fresh air and activity, but it allows for a stress-free time. Believe it or not, many people are struggling staying inside for extended periods of time and getting out in nature is a true stress reliever.
We hope these tips were helpful and you take them into consideration as states slowly start to open back up for business. As well as when you go on your daily or weekly walks. How have you been enjoying nature out of your house? Have you visited local trails or parks? Have you been walking or running in your neighborhood? Drop a comment below and let us know how you are staying safe amidst the virus while getting out in nature.