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How to Safely Enjoy Fall Activities during COVID-19

Updated: Oct 7, 2020

Follow precautions when out and about this autumn

Like most things in 2020, fall will look and feel different this year compared to last. But with a little planning and caution, you can still enjoy some of the fall’s signature activities during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Instead of focusing on all the changes, it’s really about shifting our expectations and reimagining how to do some of the same activities, explains family medicine specialist Neha Vyas, MD.

“There are still plenty of things we can safely do, we just need to take precautions to protect ourselves and those around us, which from time to time, might mean passing on an event or activity if those precautions can’t be followed,” she says.

Maintaining at least six feet from other people is key, and for times when that isn’t possible, wearing a face mask is crucial. And if you haven’t already caught on, hand sanitizer and handwashing will continue to be the coolest trends of the season.

Dr. Vyas shares some insight, advice, and modifications for a safe fall. 

Enjoying autumn activities during coronavirus

Just because we’re spending more time at home these days doesn’t mean we have to skip every fall activity we once loved. With a little organization, preparation, and creativity – it’s possible to still enjoy some of your favorite fall events.

The trick (to this treat) is reimaging and setting the correct expectation. You’ll also want to keep the golden rules of COVID-19 in mind: Wear a face mask, social distance, don’t touch your face, wash your hands regularly, and stay home if you aren’t feeling well.

Here’s what else to keep in mind for several popular fall festivities:

  • Hayrides, and corn mazes. Tread carefully with these fall activities. In the past, these outings have been very group-oriented, which doesn’t mix well with COVID-19. If you choose to participate in these activities, you might be required to make a reservation for a specific time, so call before you go so there are no surprises. Wear your face mask and be sure to ask about disinfecting, capacity, and social distancing, plus who will be monitoring these guidelines. Also, don’t be afraid to leave if protocols aren’t being followed.

  • Apple picking or visiting a pumpkin patch. Apple and pumpkin farms are popular autumn attractions, and with a little preparation and vigilance, these experiences can be safely enjoyed this year. Many establishments are now requiring reservations for visiting these facilities. This allows more control over how many people are there at one time and allows for more sanitization. Call ahead before visiting and ask about the guidelines and precautions. Be aware that certain activities that may have been available in the past (sorry, there won’t be any bobbing for apples this year), might not be an option. If you can, try to visit during non-peak hours and always bring your face mask and hand sanitizer with you.

  • Fairs and agricultural shows. Be cautious when attending these types of events. In some areas, officials have canceled fairs and animal shows due to the influx of large crowds who attend. (And although the risk of animal-to-person spread of COVID-19 is considered very low, there’s always a potential risk.) If a fair in your area is still happening, make sure you know the risk level of your region and follow the guidelines set by officials, like wearing a face mask and social distancing. Remember, the more and longer people interact, the higher the potential risk of becoming infected.

  • Fall sporting events. It’s possible that if guidelines are followed correctly, you can safely attend these types of activities this fall. Most school districts and organizations have limited the number of fans allowed at each event, so be aware of who will be allowed to attend in-person and what to expect. As a parent at a school event, lead by example when it comes to the following protocol. Wear a face mask, maintain social distance, and encourage those around you to do the same. You can also ask if there are virtual options available for family and friends to watch at home.

Still, lots of fall fun to be had

We know this year has been a bummer for many things and events. But just as we learned in the spring and summer, if we’re safe, we can still enjoy some activities – they’ll just look and feel a little different.

There’s still time to enjoy the great outdoors and local parks this fall, so take a socially distanced hike and pack a picnic. Enjoy a family car ride to enjoy the fall foliage when the weather turns cool, or hold a faux tailgate in your driveway. Rake leaves, perfect your apple pie recipe, or warm up next to a campfire on a crisp night.

“Coronavirus doesn’t have to take all the fun out of everything,” says Dr. Vyas. “If we all practice and respect the safety guidelines, we can slow the spread of the virus and still experience things that bring us joy.”

And don’t worry, pumpkin spice lattes are fall 2020 approved — for the occasional splurge, of course!

Credit: Cleveland Clinic

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