How to stay safe at the beach during a pandemic
TORONTO -- After months of self-isolating, people are eager to get outside and soak up the sun this weekend, but experts warn that overcrowding remains a problem, especially at beaches.
Trisha Calvo is the Health Editor at Consumer Reports and says that if you go to a beach that is crowded and people are not physically distancing, you should probably find another spot or go home.
“If the parking lot or the beach looks too crowded and you don't think you'll be able to stay at least six feet from other people, it’s probably a good idea to turn around and go home,” Calvo said.
In Toronto, there are eleven official city beaches and there are currently no plans to limit attendance; however officials want to avoid large crowds as much as possible.
Back in April, the city said that by-law officers handed out three fines at Woodbine Beach for visitors not physically distancing. Now, the city says it wants by-law officers to focus on educating the public—instead of issuing fines.
Across Ontario, beach rules may vary from one municipality to another. Some may have limitations, including how many people can be at the beach.
Wasaga Beach, for example, announced on Thursday that it will close the sand-covered portion of Beach Drive on July 9 and reduce the number of beachfront parking spots by 50 per cent immediately. The announcement comes after reckless crowds packed the tourist destination to a "whole new level" on Canada Day, officials say.
However, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said that the province won’t be closing any beaches in the province, but asked that residents use “common sense” when seeking out their spot in the sunshine.
Best practices for beachgoers
Before going to the beach, you should realize that parking may be reduced or limited and washrooms may be closed as well as concession stands.
You should take masks and hand sanitizer and practice physical distancing.
Health experts say the risk of waterborne transmission of COVID-19 is low and that the biggest threat is coming into contact with swimmers, who may be contagious.
Calvo advises that beachgoers should wear a mask, but not when they go swimming as a wet mask can be difficult to breathe through.
People should also stay six feet away from others in the water and set your towel six feet away from anyone not in your household and then you can safely remove your mask.
“If you decide to go for a walk or anywhere where you might come into close proximity to other people, always put your mask back on,” Calvo said.
Anyone who has symptoms of covid-19 or are awaiting tests results are advised to stay home.