COVID-19 summer
© / Montegia

It’s summer in NJ and many places are starting to reopen as part of the Stage 2 plan. While the transmission rate is down in our state, COVID-19 hasn’t disappeared, and there’s a risk factor with any situation outside your home, so you’ll still need to take precautions when heading out of the house.

As Governor Murphy and other officials often remind us, check the CDC guidelines before deciding to leave the house. Things to consider: How many people will you be interacting with; how long will you be interacting with them, and can you keep a safe social distance during your interactions? Weigh all these factors before heading out. If you’re in a high-risk group, you may want to continue to stay-at-home and avoid any non-essential interactions, but if you’re in a lower-risk group (and might go crazy trying to entertain the kids inside the house all summer while you work), there are some lower-risk activities you can try.

And as a reminder, most places have strict rules about wearing face coverings and capacity limits, so if you’re heading to shop, don’t forget your mask and be patient about waiting in lines. If you’re dining outdoors, make sure to bring masks, make advance reservations and tip your waitstaff generously. If you’re heading to the beach or park, check ahead for rules and head out early to avoid being turned away when parking lots are full.

Parks, Beaches and Pools
As long as you aren’t showing any symptoms of COVID-19 and haven’t been sick, this is a safe option for the family according to the CDC. If you’re walking in the park, stay a safe distance from other people, and bring a mask for everyone in the family over the age of two. They won’t need to wear it while you’re sitting with your household, but if you pass others on the path, visit any facilities or stop to chat with people, you’ll need to put them on. Looking for a place to hike? Here are some of our favorite spots. While you’re at the beach, you should maintain social distance and park beach chairs at least six feet, if not more, away from others. Make sure to use hand sanitizer or wash your hands if you’re visiting any public spots, and wear shoes and masks when going to use the bathroom or to get food. Here are more of our tips for beach going this summer.

Public pools are reopening, and though those have a higher risk factor than beaches and parks, if your kids keep a safe distance from their friends, don’t use toys like pool noodles, are careful in the restrooms and sanitize, then it’s a relatively safe option. The CDC recommends wearing masks while you aren’t swimming for both the beach and pool.

Outdoor Dining 
New Jersey just opened restaurants for outdoor dining this week. With NJ’s strict guidelines, you’ll be able to safely dine with your family outdoors. Masks are mandatory when you go inside to use the bathroom, or when you’re in lobbies or other crowded areas, and most restaurants require advance reservations. The CDC also recommends you wear them when you aren’t eating, and also when you’re interacting with your waitstaff. Also, if you’re dining or having drinks with your girlfriends and aren’t able to sit six feet apart at the table, make sure to give yourself as much space as possible and wear your mask as often as possible.

Backyard BBQs
With the amount of people allowed at public gatherings on the rise in NJ, you’ll want to bust out that grill and invite the neighborhood. Make sure to keep it outdoors, and check that your yard has room for everyone to space out safely. The CDC recommends you set up chairs at least six feet apart (or that people bring their own), and have hand sanitizer or a hand washing area available for your guests. They also recommend people wear masks when interacting, that you limit the amount of people touching and serving food and that the host keep a list of anyone in attendance in case there’s a need for contact tracing.

Non-Essential Shopping
Retail has reopened starting this week in NJ (though malls still remain shuttered for the time being) which means if you’ve been itching to go to HomeGoods or Marshalls, you can soon enough. You’ll have to wear a mask the entire time you’re shopping, as that’s part of the state guidelines. If you’re worried you won’t be able to keep the kids from touching everything, or away from other shoppers, you might want to leave them at home. Besides, don’t you kinda want that alone time with all the cute clothes, candles and throw pillows? Make sure to wash or sanitize your hands before and after you visit any stores.

Working Out
Gyms are still closed in New Jersey, but a lot of locations are offering outdoor parking lot workouts, meetups in local parks or Zoom workouts that you can do at home. The CDC recommends keeping your mask on when doing low-impact activities, and that in high-impact situations you also keep one close at hand for when you’ve finished working out, especially if you’re in a public spot where you might be talking or interacting with other people, or unable to keep a safe six feet apart.

Hair and nail salons and other personal care businesses, like massage therapists and tattoo parlors are now open. There are strict new rules about mask wearing, cleaning practices and social distancing, and you’ll have to make a reservation or appointment in advance for almost all of them. So if you’re desperate to get your hair done, or that much-needed pedicure, you can. Call the salon in advance and ask about its cleaning policies, what it’s done for safety and ask about any special requirements or recommendations, ie, the salon may have cashless or prepaid options to limit transactions.

Overnight Travel 
Resorts and hotels are reopening all over the area, everywhere from Crystal Springs and Hersheypark to Great Wolf and Camelback. If you’re opting for a hotel or beach rental, the CDC recommends you call before booking and find out how the rooms are being cleaned between guests. Also, cask about policies on how common areas are cleaned, and what adjustments have been  made to keep you and your family safe. Wear masks when you aren’t in your room, and make sure to sanitize and wash your hands frequently after touching things from elevator buttons to hallways to chairs in the lobby.

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