Looking for Less Risky Recreational Options? Play It by Ear

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In many ways, simply surviving an exhausting 2020 was a milestone that left us all eager for the promise of 2021. A winter to forget is receding, and the longing for a return to normalcy only grows as the weather gets warmer.

Maybe you’re unsure of the best way to head out and enjoy yourself, or safety concerns have you second-guessing those travel plans you’ve been putting off for months. Your travel gear lies packed, your car idle with its ceramic coating unblemished, but you aren’t ready to hit the road yet.

Yet each day brings us deeper into the rollout of vaccines, and more states are easing their mobility restrictions. Many people will wonder: what options do we have for recreation while still adhering to an advisable measure of safety?

Activities to consider

Sports fans will recall that most professional leagues were thrown into a panic when the pandemic first spread.

Measures for social distancing, surface disinfection, and wearing face masks meant little when you could have thousands of people packed and shouting in one venue. Athletes breathe heavily from exertion and frequently mingle with teammates, opponents, and other staff.

Still, the fact remains that sometime after the disruption, professional sports eventually resumed. And in some cases, a limited number of spectators were allowed.

So does that mean it’s safe to ring up your mates and hit the court once again? Or attend a non-virtual event for a change?

First, as experts have been warning since early 2020, no activity that takes you out of the home comes without risk. That said, some activities do carry a higher risk than others.

Contact sports and events are still discouraged. The key factors are large groups of people in proximity for more than 5-10 minutes.

The risks are lower, but still non-zero, if you play a more individual sport, like golf. Or go hiking on a local trail or swimming at a sparsely populated beach.

These activities place you outdoors, where the air flows freely, and the density of people is low. You can still maintain a safe distance while enjoying the experience in relative normalcy.

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Keep it local

Just as experts have continued to reinforce the point that nothing is safer than staying at home, they also warn that movement beyond local areas still poses a greater danger.

This threat isn’t limited to your person. Asymptomatic people can be carriers. The same holds for anyone who’s been vaccinated.

The concept of a vaccine as a passport is exciting, but it’s also heavily debated.

Software companies are already developing digital certificates. Travel businesses are implementing requirements to allow only vaccinated travelers. But not all countries are keen on the idea of opening borders, while inequality remains an issue in vaccine distribution.

Within the US, each state will vary when it comes to lifting restrictions and how far along they are in rolling out vaccination programs.

You may be feeling fine or have already received a shot, but you still hold a responsibility to continue limiting the potential spread of the coronavirus.

If you must head out, avoid public transportation and international travel. Get behind the wheel, bringing along only members of your household. Stick to local destinations until there’s a federal-level announcement that it’s safe to cross borders freely once more.

Expect some confusion

When the pandemic first hit us, experts turned to China for lessons on how to respond. Now that vaccines are being rolled out, Israel is closely observed for having the most advanced progress on that front.

If their example is anything to go by, we can anticipate a fair amount of confusion in the months, even years to come. The US is far bigger and needs to coordinate more moving parts.

Brace yourself for some venues to reopen, only to close again. There might be a lack of official clarity on how many people can gather at certain establishments or events. The more risky forms of recreation, such as nightlife and international travel, could be even more stop-start in nature.

The pandemic’s underlying conflict has always been between reviving the economy and keeping the population safe. Our desire to resume normal living needs a resolution to both. As long as tensions exist, the tug-of-war between those forces will keep us on our toes.

It’s great that we’re trending slowly towards normalcy, but this is a continuously evolving situation. As far as travel plans are concerned, don’t commit in advance. Be prepared to play it by ear, even into 2022 and beyond.

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