Let's take a look at some common questions about popular summer outdoor activities and what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and experts generally recommend. (Keep in mind that scientists' understanding of the COVID-19 virus and how it spreads is still evolving, so any and all guidance is subject to change.)
Also, all of these guidelines assume you are not sick with COVID-19. If you or anyone in your household is displaying symptoms of COVID-19, has tested positive for the virus, or been exposed to it within the past 14 days, stay home to protect others.
Can we go to a park?
Yes. Getting outside in nature is good for both mind and body, whether you're a child or an adult. Just keep in mind the following precautions:
The hard truth is that playgrounds may not be safe during the pandemic. The CDC says playgrounds are difficult to keep safe because they tend to get crowded and the surfaces often aren't cleaned regularly.
There are no national rules about playground use during the pandemic, so whether your local playground is open and what guidelines are in place will depend on where you live.
It's best to use your own judgment. If the playground is packed with kids, the risk of catching something is certainly elevated. Consider returning at a different time of day when there are fewer people.
If there are only a couple of other children on the playground and there's enough space for your kids to play at a 6-foot distance from them, they're more likely to be okay.
And don't forget, the CDC recommends kids ages 2 and older wear face masks to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 through respiratory droplets. (Masks are not recommended for younger kids because they could suffocate.)
And carry hand sanitizer with you in case there are no bathrooms where you and your kids can wash hands. It's also a good idea to carry a bottle of water so you can rinse dirt off your children's hands if necessary before using hand sanitizer. Dirt and grease can make hand sanitizer less effective.
The good news: You probably can't get COVID-19 from swimming in water (at least that's what the evidence suggests so far). Pool water, especially, is usually disinfected with chemicals that kill off any virus particles.
That said, you still need to be careful about getting too close to other people at swimming pools, water playgrounds, or other water recreation sites. Just as with parks and playgrounds, if the pool is crowded and you can't maintain social distance, it's probably safer to choose another activity.
Keep in mind that drowning is another big risk for kids around water. Read our article about water safety to find out more about how to protect your children from accidental drowning.
The same rules that apply to parks and swimming pools generally apply to beaches. First, make sure the beach you want to go to is open, and follow any rules that local authorities have put in place.
Avoid crowded beaches, and keep a distance of at least 6 feet from people who are not in your group. Bring plenty of hand sanitizer so everyone in your family can regularly clean their hands (in case there are no bathrooms or the bathrooms aren't clean), and try to avoid touching your faces.
It's best to bring your own towels, beach chairs, Frisbees, and other gear and toys, rather than using shared or rented equipment.
--For more information about the coronavirus, especially when it comes to pregnancy and children, check out our coronavirus resources page.