How to enjoy green spaces this summer while still respecting public health directives

Lifestyle Sports | Lifestyle
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You can still enjoy the outdoors over the next couple months it’ll just require a bit more caution

Although BC is now in Phase 3 of the provincial plan for dealing with life in the time of COVID-19, we need to remain diligent about social distancing and limiting our social activities. Staying aware of these precautions works to protect the most vulnerable members of our community, like seniors and immuno-compromised persons, among others.

Whether it be an elderly neighbour, an essential worker, or a grandparent of yours, there are many ways that keeping a suitable distance from others could have a direct impact on the health of those around you.

So how can you continue proactively social distancing while still getting out to enjoy the outdoors for the rest of summer? Here are a couple things to consider when heading out. 

1. Consider proximity.

Where you’re heading out to matters. It’s worth taking into account how far you’ll need to travel in order to get where you’re going. Each long drive out to Goldstream means more trips to the gas station, and consequently more interaction with others. Make smart choices about the green spaces you’re choosing to occupy, whether it be a park, a trail, or a community garden.

2. Scope out the best possible timing to hit up your venue. 

Not every time of the day is made equal when it comes to maintaining adequate social distancing from others. It’s likely that an early-morning trail on a Tuesday is going to be less crowded than an escapade at noon on a Sunday. Take the time to consider what hours would yield the least amount of crowds. 

3. Limit your outings.

It might be tempting to treat this summer like any other, but it’s more important than ever to think twice before stepping out, particularly when it comes to non-essential outings — anything that isn’t a trip to the grocery store or work. Take recreational trips, but do so mindfully, and plan them out in advance. 

4. Set boundaries, even if others don’t.

Phase 3 means that restrictions coming from Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry are slightly more relaxed and that people are now feely able to travel within the province, as long as caution is used. However, the basic guidelines and safety precautions from Phase 2 still apply and include outdoor spaces such as parks and beaches. While Henry has given the green light to limited social gatherings, it is still recommended that we all keep in-person interactions to “small and consistent” circles. Setting boundaries also applies to remembering to maintain your own distance from others — ideally the full 6 ft apart in public spaces like parks. This also means considering invitations to hang out with others in public spaces carefully, and politely declining if you feel physical distancing directives might not be closely followed. The third phase might allow for slightly enlarged circles and cautious travel within B.C., but we still need to limit non-essential interaction with people outside of our social circles. Instead, try to hang out with the same few friends or family members and limit public event attendance. 

5. Don’t treat COVID-19 like it’s over, because it’s definitely not.

While B.C. has seen success in controlling COVID-19’s spread so far, we all have to remember that we’re still on the road to recovery. We’re in Phase 3, and the reopening of parks, beaches, and other outdoor venues is a privilege that could be taken away if the pandemic worsens. Public health directives still need to be followed as closely as possible, so that normal life can eventually resume. It only takes one outdoor wedding or crowded hiking trail to potentially spread COVID-19 once again. 

So do make time to get out there this summer, but be mindful about the choices you’re making in the process. Heading out to get some fresh air should be a priority, but not at the expense of other British Columbians’ health — so do your part to enjoy nature responsibly. 

As Canada waits for the fourth phase of “total normalcy” to return (depending on when a vaccine for COVID-19 can be distributed), British Columbians need to stay accountable for not only their health and safety, but also for the communities we live in. In the words of Dr. Bonnie Henry: “Be kind. Be calm. Be safe” as we slowly re-emerge back into the world together!