Things You Absolutely Should Not Be Doing in Parks Right Now

Parks have been a useful reprieve for many people amid the coronavirus pandemic. Taking a walk in the park—while maintaining social distancing and wearing a mask—is one of the safest excursions you can take outside of your house. As the weather gets warmer, people will begin flocking to parks in greater numbers, which could make the risk of spreading COVID-19 higher. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these are the park activities to avoid to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. And for more activities to avoid, learn which 7 Things You Absolutely Should Not Be Doing With Friends Right Now.

1Use playgrounds
Kids on a playground
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The CDC advises against using any playgrounds in local, state, or national parks—including water play areas. Playgrounds are risky because they are often crowded and will likely not have been recently disinfected when you or your child interact with them. Additionally, children are known to occasionally put their hands in their mouths or rub their noses, which could lead to infection if the play equipment was contaminated. And if you think your child might have COVID-19, discover 7 New Symptoms the CDC Says You Need to Look Out for in Your Kids.

2Participate in organized activities or sports
Men playing outdoor basketball
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Since contact sports are an easy way for the coronavirus to spread, even professional sports have been put on hold. “In general, most organized activities and sports such as basketball, baseball, soccer, and football that are held on park fields, open areas, and courts are not recommended,” according to the CDC. Even non-contact sports are ill-advised because they “typically require coaches and athletes who are not from the same household or living unit to be in close proximity, which increases their potential for exposure to COVID-19.”

3Visit crowded parks
Crowded park
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With everyone looking to get some sunshine, parks may be overcrowded. The CDC advises people to stay away from parks that are so packed that you are unable to stay at least six feet away from others at all times. If you come across a park that looks full, move on to the next one or try to go back before or after peak hours. And for more things to steer clear of, These Are the Worst Coronavirus “Super Spreaders” You Need to Know.

4Visit parks if you are sick or were recently exposed to COVID-19
Woman coughing
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The CDC says, “If you are sick with COVID-19, were recently exposed (within 14 days) to someone with COVID-19, or just don’t feel well, do not visit public areas including parks or recreational facilities.” Check in with yourself and evaluate if you have any potential coronavirus symptoms before going out into a public space. And for more possible symptoms of COVID-19, here are the 13 Coronavirus Symptoms That Are More Common Than a Sore Throat.

5Go to parks far from home
People in a park
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If possible, it’s best to go to a park close to home to minimize the potential of transmission. “Traveling long distances to visit a park may contribute to the spread of COVID-19 as most travel requires you to stop along the way or be in close contact with others,” per the CDC. “Travel may also expose you to surfaces contaminated with the virus that causes COVID-19.” Avoid traveling to another neighborhood’s park to help lower your risk, and the risk for others.

6Get within six feet of other people
Crowded park
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The CDC stipulates that visiting a park is only okay if you practice social distancing and correct hygiene. To keep everyone safe, the CDC says you must stay at least six feet from people while you’re in the park and avoid gathering with people outside of those you are quarantining with. If these precautions are not possible, you should avoid the park. And for places where social distancing is mandatory, check out these 10 States Where You Will Be Fined for Not Social Distancing.

7Go without the proper protections
Friends at the park
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Heading to the park without a mask on could be risky, and some park staff may even ask you to leave. Before you venture to the park, be sure to pack some hand sanitizer—in case soap and water is not available—and don your mask so you’re ready to enjoy your visit safely. And if you’re wondering which mask you should be using, here’s Every Face Mask You Can Buy—Ranked by Effectiveness.

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