As shores reopen across the country, here's what experts recommend you do during your next day trip.

By Caroline Biggs
July 01, 2020
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There's no better time than the summer to plan a trip to the beach. However, with social distancing measures to adhere to, a day at the beach is going to look a little different than it used to. "The risks of going to the beach right now include the presence of large crowds, people shouting or yelling which can theoretically spread more virus particles in the air, having to use public restrooms with lots of high-touch surfaces, and lying in sand where someone may have sneezed or coughed," explains Dr. Linda Anegawa, an internist with virtual primary care platform PlushCare. "However, you're probably safer from the virus when outdoors in the sunlight—where it is felt that the virus may die quickly—versus in a closed environment such as a stadium or theatre."

Good news: Even if social distancing restrictions haven't lifted in your area, there are still ways to safely spend a day at the beach. We asked Dr. Anegawa and event planner Lisa Cokinos of LC Events for tips on how to prepare for a socially-distant trip, and here's what they had to share.

Know the rules and restrictions.

Before you plan a trip to the beach this summer, Dr. Anegawa suggests doing some research to make sure you're clear on what restrictions are in place in your area. "Read up on your local area's cautions and restrictions before you go, so you'll be prepared," she explains. "Some counties have strict rules on the number of people who are allowed on the beach, what you can bring, and there could be time restrictions, too. Others allow activities but don't allow loitering at all."

Come prepared.

Just because you'll be at the beach doesn't mean you shouldn't take the same precautions you would in other public spaces. "It's ideal to continue wearing a mask at all times unless in the water," Dr. Anegawa says. "If possible, bring your own beach chairs and equipment, as well as plenty of hand sanitizer or wipes in case you need to use a public rest room." If you plan on bringing food for your beach trip, Cokinos recommends packing individual meals and treat bags for each person beforehand. "Do not risk unnecessary exposure by purchasing anything from the concession stand," she says.

Avoid crowded areas.

In order to stay healthy and socially distant once you arrive at the beach, Cokinos says to avoid areas where there are large groups of people or gatherings. "Mark off your area with a large blanket and umbrella if you can," she says. "Place all lounge chairs on the perimeter of the blanket facing in. If possible, everyone should have their own lounge chair that they can easily wipe down."

Plan for low-key activities.

While outdoor games, like volleyball, are traditionally popular at the beach, our experts say it's smarter to engage in more isolated activities. "Keep your beach visit activity-focused," Dr. Anegawa says. "Go for a walk, swim, or a paddle. When you are moving and far from others, your risk of catching the virus is lower." If you have your heart set on a group game, Cokinos suggests sticking with ones that allow you to stand at least six-feet apart from other beach-goers, such Spikeball ($60, dickssportinggoods.com) or Pro Kadima ($16, amazon.com).

Do laundry as soon as you get home.

When your beach day is over, Dr. Anegawa says it's crucial to deep clean any blankets, towels, and clothing items once you get home. "Wash everything in hot water with adequate detergent as soon as possible, and then fully dry in the dryer," she says.

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