Karen Alexander, a nursing professor at University of Houston-Clear Lake, said that social distancing, diligent sanitation and limiting exposure to people outside the household are essential when planning family leisure time amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Bay Area offers numerous opportunities for residents to get out of the house, but some are safer than others even while following proper health and safety guidelines.
Here are her rankings for several common summertime activities.
Indoor games: low
Indoor activities, like building with Legos or playing video games, are considered low-risk—as long as any materials being passed back and forth are sanitized. Video game hand controls, for example, should be disinfected after use, and children should wash their hands and faces once done with the games, Alexander said.
Outdoor movie night: low
For those in need of a night at the theater, Alexander suggested buying a projector and an outdoor screen. A backyard movie setup can safely host eight to 10 people while maintaining social distancing.
Kemah Boardwalk: moderate
If families are socially distancing and wearing masks while in public, the risks are mostly mitigated, but this also depends on how crowded the area is that day, Alexander said. Kids of all ages should wear masks in these environments to protect those at risk, she added. For those going on rides, only one person should be in each car with the next person or car 6-8 feet away.
Plane travel: moderate
Alexander said families should consider alternative travel options besides boarding a plane. Even if someone sits in the aisle seat with another person in the window seat, the empty middle seat does not provide a proper 6-foot barrier for social distancing. This means relying on the air compression of the aircraft to contain the virus, and there is no guarantee that will work, Alexander said.
Swimming (pool or beach): moderate to high
While chlorine will kill the COVID-19 virus, most swimmers are generally not socially distancing or wearing masks while enjoying time in the water, Alexander said. Moreover, once wet, people tend to touch their eyes, faces and mouths more often. A distance of 8 feet apart is more appropriate in the water, Alexander said, which is not always possible.