The start of summer tends to be the time when many of us are thinking about going on holiday, rather than going back to work – at least it used to be! Now, however, with all 50 states in the US partially reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown restrictions gradually being eased in the UK, it’s important that you put your health and wellbeing above anything else.
Schools are reopening in England (although it must be recognised that they have still been receiving the children of key workers so have not ‘shut’ as such) and in Wales children are due to return on the 29th June – although this is subject to parental choice.
Staying cautious and informed post-pandemic will minimize the risk of you becoming infected, so here are a few strategies that you can take to stay protected. Obviously, it is largely a matter of commonsense and many of us still need to travel to work if we don’t have the luxury of working from home. That said, the advice below applies to all of us – and will do, I suspect, for quite some time to come.
Stick to the Outdoors
Experts recommend that if you can do something outdoors rather than inside, then you should. COVID-19 seems to spread through airborne droplets which can land on surfaces, which people will consequently pick up with their hands. Clearly this is less likely to happen outdoors and the open air will make it more difficult for airborne droplets to reach people. In addition to the health benefits you can gain from being outside, you will find it easier to keep your distance compared to being in an enclosed indoor space.
Avoid Public Transport
If you are one of many millions who need to commute each day to work, it’s recommended to take your car or walk if possible. If you rely on public transport and can’t find an alternate route, there are several tips that can minimize the risk of you becoming infected with the coronavirus.
Sitting or standing as far as you can from others, changing your commute time, and cleaning your hands before and after your trip are all helpful tips.
In England, face masks will be mandatory on public transport from 15 June 2020.
Follow Good Hygiene Practices
While you have probably heard it many times before, it’s vital that you frequently wash your hands and refrain from touching your face. If you are going to be around others and touching surfaces, using a hand sanitizer will add an extra layer of protection. If you can get to a sink, soap and water will work just as well, but make sure that you allocate a minimum of 20 seconds to washing your hands. Also, ensure you reach your fingertips and the back of your hands.
Wear a Face Mask
In the US, although there were initial mixed messages from federal offices at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s recommended that individuals wear face masks when going out. A medical or surgical mask is advised; however, a cloth one can work just as well. The CCC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends that you wear a face mask in public environments. You can purchase specialized face masks too. They’re custom made to your designs to suit your needs.
As above, from 15 June wearing face masks will be mandatory on public transport in the UK. From the same date, all hospital staff in England will be expected to wear surgical masks, while all visitors and outpatients will be expected to wear face coverings at all times.
Avoid Crowded Areas
One of the most important pieces of advice that has been given throughout the COVID-19 pandemic is to keep a distance of 2 metres or more from others who you do not live with. The closer you are to another person, the higher risk you have of becoming infected. With safety measures beginning to relax, it’s still just as important to keep your distance and monitor those who are around you.
Here in the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering reducing this distance to one metre in order to kickstart the economy and get people back into shops, pubs and restaurants.
Avoid Shared Spaces
If you are heading back to work, coronavirus can be easily picked up by droplets on surfaces, so one way to reduce your risk of being infected is by avoiding shared spaces and surfaces as much as you can. Even when heading outdoors, it’s vital that you avoid surfaces that have been touched by others. Benches, swings, and slides are all breeding grounds for coronavirus, so being cautious wherever you go is essential.
With safety measures beginning to relax across the country, the threat of COVID-19 may be here for years to come. Whether you’re returning to work, or doing day to day errands, all the advice listed above can add an extra layer of protection and safety post-pandemic.