Summer is here and many of us are wondering how to keep safe while we enjoy the summer in a semi-post-COVID world. The U.S. still only has vaccination rates of 46% of the population being fully vaccinated. So, that means we’ve still got a long way to go before everything goes back to being “normal” completely.
So, how do we keep ourselves and others safe this summer, without missing out on social activities and reducing our stress and depression?
1. Small Social Gatherings
Any kind of gathering still has some risk of COVID infection, but for gatherings of folks fully vaccinated, the risk is much lower than a mixed group. If you know your guests are all vaccinated, you can throw your usual barbecue-style gatherings with open-air and indoor moments, shared food, hugs, and no masks.
If you’ve got a group of friends with mixed vaccination status, you still may have some options, but they are more limited. People in attendance should determine their own personal risk tolerance and some guidelines should be held to: maintain social distancing, wear masks whenever possible, wash hands regularly, as prescribed, and keep events outdoors.
2. Dining Out With Friends And Family
Many of us have already been partaking in outdoor dining at establishments across the country – something that used to be a novelty! – but what if patios are full?
According to the CDC, those who are fully vaccinated may dine indoors at restaurants more safely again, though there is still a minor risk of infection. If you’re in a high-vaccination rate area (check this map if you’re not sure), the risk is lower than if you live in an area with lower rates.
3. Mask Wearing Indoors
For those fully vaccinated, wearing a mask anywhere is more about your personal comfort levels. According to the seven epidemiologists, researchers, and infectious disease physicians, it’s an area up for debate. Between the seven interviewed by TODAY, most still wear masks for their own comfort level and protection of others (such as unvaccinated children at home). Ultimately, they’ve determined, it’s up to you and how comfortable you are with being in closed-in spaces with people who may or may not be vaccinated.
4. Discussing Vaccination Status
Though we cannot ask everyone in our lives if they’ve been fully vaccinated, we do have some say in who we hang out with in person, especially in more intimate settings like our homes. If you have friends you’d like to spend time with but you’re not sure of their vaccination status, it’s a tricky thing. You have the option of asking about vaccine status, though this can be uncomfortable or lead to messy conversations.
Your other option is to keep all gatherings, even intimate ones, outdoors or opting for mask-wearing while indoors.
Thankfully, with the vaccination numbers going up and the infection rates going down, the summer of 2021 has more options for safe gatherings, indoor dining, and a more “normal” life again. The number one tip is to get vaccinated and use precautions with those who have yet to receive the vaccine to keep yourself and others safe. And otherwise, enjoy those barbecues, vacations, and even swimming.