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Enjoying the Outdoors Safely During COVID-19

For some counties in California, the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders have begun to gradually change.




While places like public pools and playgrounds remain closed, other outdoor spaces that allow for better social distancing may be reopening. Before leaving home, you should check the websites of local outdoor destinations, such as state parks, to find out which ones are open and what their new visitor guidelines are.

Know the Expectations

Since the virus is still out there, we’re being asked to continue practicing safety measures to prevent the spread. In fact, the state’s stay-at-home order for recreational activities mandates that Californians must remain in their own communities, maintain a minimum of 6 feet physical distance from others, and not recreate with people outside of their immediate households.

State Parks and Beaches

While some state parks and public beaches are reopening, it’s important to understand that your experience in these public places will be different than before the pandemic hit. To give you an idea of what to expect, The California Department of Parks and Recreation listed the following partial list of updated visitor guidelines to help reduce exposure to the COVID-19 virus:

  • Stay local – Stay close to home. Parking is very limited or nonexistent at park units across the state. Walk or bike to parks in your local neighborhood. Do not take road trips to parks and beaches or to neighboring states.
  • Leave it at home – The use of coolers, umbrellas, shade tents, BBQs or chairs is not allowed in many park units. Plan ahead.
  • Keep it moving – Passive recreation (lounging, picnics, sunbathing, etc.) is being restricted where physical distance is a challenge. In those areas, only active recreation (walking, running, biking, boating, kayaking, off-highway riding, etc.) will be allowed. Also, watch out for one-way trails.
  • Stay safer at 6 feet – No matter the recreational activity, maintain a physical distance of 6 feet or more. Visitors are being asked to leave if there are too many people to allow for the required physical distance.
  • Keep clean – Be prepared. Not all restrooms are open to the public. Bring soap/sanitizer and pack out all trash.

Other Outdoor Activities

Of course, you don’t need to go to a park or a beach to enjoy the outdoors. This is California — beauty is everywhere! Simply taking a walk through your neighborhood or having a family picnic in your own backyard are risk-free ways to enjoy the outdoors during this challenging time. You can also practice your golf swing, kick around a soccer ball or shoot some hoops — just not with anyone outside of your household.

Play It Safe

Being outside is good for your physical and mental well-being. So, don’t hesitate to get out there and enjoy a beautiful day. Just make sure you’re doing it safely. In addition to the governmental guidelines, you can take extra measures to protect your health.

Before heading off to an outdoor destination, consider what times it may be at its least crowded. If you get there and see that there are too many people to distance safely, just leave. It also doesn’t hurt to bring a mask. You don’t need one outdoors if you’re able to keep a 6-foot distance from others, but it could come in handy if you find yourself in an unexpectedly crowded situation.

When you’re out, remember that the COVID-19 virus can live on surfaces. Stay away from public restrooms, drinking fountains and any other surfaces touched by others. Use your elbow to push elevator or street-crossing buttons and, as hard as it may be, resist the urge to pet that cute dog walking past. Experts are not sure if the germ can live on animals’ fur, but they advise to err on the side of caution. Carrying a travel-sized bottle of hand sanitizer is a great idea in case you can’t avoid touching a surface. Do not touch your face, and make sure to wash your hands as soon as you get home.

Stay Informed

Remember, with this virus, guidelines are continually changing. Knowing the latest recommendations specific to your community is essential to protecting your health and controlling the spread of the disease. For more information and guidelines specific to the state of California, visit the California Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response website and sign up to receive alerts about your county’s updates.