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Safest outdoor activities during COVID-19

After months indoors, getting fresh air has become important for our mental health, but what's the best way to do it and stay safe?

YORK, Pa. — All 50 states have reopened in some way and after months of being indoors, most of us are itching to enjoy some outdoor activities.  But with COVID-19 still out there, how do you know what's safe?

Doctors say your risk of contracting the virus is much lower outdoors than indoors, but not all activities are created equal.  Tennis and golf are two great outdoor sports that are pretty safe, because they are no contact  and you don't have to be within 6 feet of anyone while you play.  Same goes for walking or jogging. 

Earlier this week, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources announced that by Saturday June 6th, all 58 state park beaches will be open to swimming, which Health and Wellness Expert Dr. David Geier says is a great option.  

"Whether it's the ocean or pool, swimming is good too. the virus doesn't seem to survive in water or chlorinated environments. just be careful of large groups of people socializing close together," Dr. Geier advised.

State Park swimming pools, however, will remain closed with only some in the yellow and green phases reopening June 13th.  Both pools and beaches will be limited to 50 percent of their normal capacity.  All picnic pavilion reservations, playgrounds, nature play areas, interpretive centers, amphitheaters, and group camping facilities statewide will remain closed in yellow areas.  

Dr. Geier says it really boils down to how much risk a person is willing to take. People in high risk groups like the elderly or people with medical conditions, may feel better staying home, but for most people, getting outdoors this summer can be relatively safe and great for our mental health.

DCNR officials released these tips to follow to help avoid exposure to COVID-19 while still enjoying the outdoors. 

1,  Don’t hike or recreate in groups – go with those under the same roof, and adhere to social distancing (stay 6 feet apart)

2. Wear a mask

3.  Take hand sanitizer with you and use it regularly

4.  Avoid touching your face, eyes, and nose

5.  Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with a tissue or flexed elbow

6.  If you are sick, stay home

Information about state parks and forests is available on the DCNR website.