Many questions continue to pop-up regarding what life will look like when we are no longer living in the shadow of COVID-19. New Jersey continues the “re-opening” process with access to gyms and indoor dining returning this month. It’s crucial to navigate the re-opening of these venues safely to protect yourself and remain healthy.
Reopening vs. “Back to Normal”
The first thing to keep in mind is that Covid-19 has not gone away. Designating New Jersey as “re-opening” does not mean that things are ”back to normal.” Rather, it is an effort to get people back to doing things they did before the emergence of Covid-19 and for businesses to re-open for business.
Each of us will have to weigh the risk versus benefit of resuming normal activities, along with our own tolerance for the unknown. The one thing all health experts do agree on is that we must remain vigilant: maintain social distance, wear masks, and wash our hands.
Is It Safe Outdoors?
While there is nothing inherently risky about being outside it is still necessary to avoid large crowds. Even while being outside, the six-foot spacing guideline should be maintained. Knowing that asymptomatic people can infect others, if you are standing too close when interacting, there is a chance you can become infected and not know it. While being outside is preferable over being inside, maintaining social distance is very important.
What Role Do Masks Play?
Masks can reduce the number of droplets expelled from the nose and mouth. Droplets from sneezing, coughing, and even talking are considered to be the main mode of transmission, landing either on another person or surface. Those who touch a contaminated surface may be at risk if they then touch their face, especially their eyes or mouth. Studies show that wearing a mask helps to mitigate the risk of these droplets from being aerosolized and contaminating surfaces.
What About Restaurants?
Beginning Labor Day weekend, New Jersey is re-opening restaurants for indoor dining at limited capacity. Deciding whether or not to go to a restaurant, both for outdoor and indoor dining, is a personal choice – with some people remaining unsure about doing so. One good step to take is to call ahead or check the restaurant’s website to find out what precautions they are taking before you make your decision. There should be at least 6 feet between tables, employees should be wearing masks and management should be screening their employees for symptoms daily. Even with restaurants taking precautions, many public health experts believe restaurants are one of the most difficult places to practice social distancing. Additionally, remember that those you’ve been in daily contact with should be the ones with whom you dine out with. During these early stages of re-opening, be cautious regarding who is sitting at your table.
How Do I Return To The Gym?
As of September 1st, gyms in New Jersey have re-opened. If you are interested in returning to the gym, call to see if your gym is limiting how many members are allowed inside at the same time; you might have to reserve a block of time in advance. According to the Mayo Clinic, it is recommended that you ask about the facility’s cleaning and disinfecting policies and whether you’ll be able to use the locker room or bathroom. If you are interested in group exercise classes, ask if they are being offered.
Your gym should be enforcing social distancing by blocking access to every other cardio machine or by putting up barriers around equipment and making sure everyone stays at least 6 feet away from other members.You also may be required to wear a mask during your entire workout at the gym and to clean equipment before and after using it.
As you make personal decisions regarding visiting business and venues that continue to re-open, remember that local re-opening plans and guidelines are continuously changing and being updated. Stay on top of the latest Covid-19 guidelines from the CDC here and for more tips on staying safe as businesses re-open, consult the Mayo Clinic’s Covid-19 Safety Tips for travel, dining in restaurants, gyms, salons and grocery stores here.