Recreating Outdoors During COVID-19: Can You Stay Safe?

Alex Camerino | | BrainsBrains
Biking during Covid-19
Lift operators wear masks to limit possible COVID-19 transmission. Photo: Brundage

Outdoor recreating during the Coronavirus pandemic is safer than most activities. In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was unclear how the virus was spreading. Now, however, it is clear that the virus is transmitted most easily by aerosols and droplets. Those small projections come from when we breathe, talk, cough, and even sing.

While catching COVID-19 outdoors is fairly unlikely, we know that stagnant air indoors is the most likely place you will be infected. Aerosolized particles of virus can hang in the air for several hours new studies show. This means wearing a mask in enclosed spaces is still vital. Outdoors, however, masks are not needed in most scenarios.

Urban vs Rural Recreation

Recreating in more populated areas can still have complications. In New York City there has been a heated debate whether people should wear masks while running or biking. Data would suggest that it is probably not necessary to wear a mask. However, medical professionals recognize that if masks are not worn social distancing guidelines should be adhered to.

Recreation during Covid-19
In urban areas, people have debated whether people should recreate with masks on. Evidence suggests you probably don’t need to wear one. Photo: Outside

As national parks and forests reopen along with state parks, many are experiencing large crowds. These crowds could be a source of disease transmission, although it seems unlikely as any moving air dissipates the virus. In less crowded areas transmission of COVID-19 is highly unlikely.

Overall, it is most important to continue following social distancing guidelines even when recreating outdoors. While open spaces are better, it is much safer to wear a mask if you are in a crowded area to avoid any possible transmission of COVID-19.

One final note on recreating during a pandemic:

Take smaller risks than you normally would. If you end up needing search and rescue crews you are putting other people in harm’s way (even more so now). You also risk taking up a bed in a hospital that could be used to treat a COVID-19 patient.

Social Distance circles
A park in Toronto, Canada paints circles on the grass to keep groups socially distanced. Photo: DH News

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