Top tips for getting out there during a pandemic
Get Out There's Diana Lee on how to safely SUP, camp and get outdoors
As an outdoorsy person all year round, it’s hard to believe I spent almost a hundred days at home between March and June.
I knew 2020 was going to be an uncertain year for adventures when air travel came to a halt, borders closed, cities declared a state of emergency, and people everywhere were to stay home to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
Here in Ontario, we have just entered Stage 3 of reopening with public spaces such as provincial parks, campgrounds and beaches opening last month. While this is a good sign, every location has different parameters for each stage and the pandemic, as we know, is far from over.
I know many of us are eager to jump into outdoor activities, but also a bit nervous, so here are some things I’m doing nowadays, whether aiming to go for SUP session, bike ride, or contemplating a camp trip, which helps me navigate these unprecedented times:
SUP is an activity that embraces physical distance before the pandemic — although it's easy to get out there solo, always tell a buddy. Water safety should be a top priority with or without a pandemic.
For camping, consider going solo (article in progress) or only with your small bubble. Also, bring extra supplies (e.g. soap and hand sanitizer) as parks are reporting shortages and ongoing theft (Boo!).
The author, Diana Lee, enjoying a solo SUP
And don’t forget these tips:
· Check with local government and provincial regulations – you can check reopening plans province-by province here.
· Check that where you are going is actually open, and open to non-residents (if this destination is outside of your community). That includes any facilities (e.g. parking lot, washrooms), local attractions, businesses, etc. Sometimes it helps to call rather than to rely on what is posted online or appears in the search results.
· Plan ahead and review the COVID-19 safety measures for your destination before even leaving home (e.g. reservations required, a screening process is in place).
· Have a back-up plan, especially if things don’t go as planned (e.g. the trail is too packed to practice physical distancing safely, the park ends up closing because they are at capacity, sections of the beach are closed as maintenance/construction resumes).
· Things to bring (other than the usual safety gear or gear required for your activity) include a mask plus extras, hand sanitizer; as well as food, water, snacks and sunscreen to avoid extra stops, contact points or sharing of items even if it’s between your select bubble of family and friends.
· Practice physical distancing not just when you’re on foot or standing in line – for example, park your vehicle away from the entrance, avoid visiting during peak hours, stage your paddling gear away from the most direct route to the water, etc.
· Stay up to date and informed through credible sources (e.g. government health officials). As things evolve, there may be new practices or safety guidelines.
· And lastly, be patient – if you don’t feel that it’s safe for you to go out, take your time and wait.
Also, don't forget that there are other ways to enjoy 2020!
For instance, following the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a number of creative and fun virtual events to stoke the competitive and community spirit.
Here are a few of our faves:
· HER QUEST (August 22 to 30) – A women-only race and speakers series.
· Canada Army Run (September 12 to 20) – One of the most popular running races in the country now has a virtual edition.
· Virtual visits with Parks Canada through The Great Trail.
· Online courses with Birds Canada.
· Check out your local library and discover their online resources such as ebooks, audiobooks, learning modules, online programming and more.
· Catch up on Get Out There gear reviews and articles you might have missed.
What are some things you’ve been doing to help with getting out there during this time? Share in the comments below!
Whether your city has the lowest cases of COVID-19 or your province is in the last stage or phase of reopening, stay safe. I think of those who are more vulnerable (who might not be able to get out there yet), those who have had COVID-19 significantly impact their lives, and the social responsibility we all have during this time (why I personally limited my content on social media).
A BIG thank you to all the essential workers — both the healthcare and non-healthcare workers — who kept the world going throughout this pandemic.
Lead photo by Wilson Ye