8 Safe Summer Activities During COVID-19

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
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  • Dad, daughter at play

    Summer 2020 didn't look like any summer we’ve seen before, but 2021 looks a little brighter. With a high rate of COVID-19 vaccination and community immunity on the horizon, summer in 2021 will be less restrictive. There are many summertime activities to be enjoyed, even during a worldwide pandemic. The key is knowing what’s safe, and taking the recommended steps to reduce your risk while you’re out there soaking up some summer fun.

  • 1
    Go for a safe swim.
    young boy swimming in pool with goggles on

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through water. Proper operation, maintenance and disinfection (with chlorine or bromine) of pools should kill the virus. If you are not sick or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, it’s safe to use swimming pools as long as you stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) from others and avoid large gatherings of more than 10 people. (Check the gathering restriction where you live.)

    Wash your hands with soap and water, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

  • 2
    Get back to nature.
    Young couple hike in California

    In many areas of the country, people can now get out to visit local parks, hike nature trails, and frolic distantly in open spaces, which is great summer news. The fresh air, vitamin D, and physical activity can do wonders for our mental health, and it’s also a safer alternative to remaining indoors, since virus particles get diluted in the breeze and have a low survival rate on sunny surfaces. It’s also an opportune time to get back to nature, which can be grounding in times of anxiety and uncertainty. So get out and enjoy the soothing sound of a waterfall, start your summer garden, or just walk barefoot through a grassy field, keeping at least 6 feet away from fellow nature goers.

  • 3
    Drive-in to the movies.
    two kids in back of car at drive-in movie theater

    In the late 1950's, the rising cost of residential and commercial properties forced many drive-in movie theatres to close. But thanks to the coronavirus, which forced many cinemas to shut down, the drive-in is making a comeback with new outdoor venues popping up all over the country. It’s a great way to get off the couch and change things up, and ticket prices are generally considerably less than a traditional movie theatre ticket. So when Netflix gets old, pack up the family car with some blankets, pillows and your favorite concessions, and head to the nearest drive-in for a double feature under the stars.

  • 4
    Get nostalgic with the kids.
    mother and young daughter playing hide and seek indoors

    More than ever, parents are welcoming a slower pace of life, while at the same time scrambling for ideas to fill the long summer days. Now’s a perfect time to get nostalgic and share the summers of your youth with your children. Join them outside for a game of hide-and-seek, badminton, or kick the can. Plan a scavenger hunt around the neighborhood, or create an obstacle course with toys and games from your garage. Build a treehouse. Hang a swing. Catch fireflies. Embrace the lazy, and enjoy the time with your kids while we have it!

    If you're fully vaccinated, health officials consider it safe to attend in-person social gatherings with other fully vaccinated friends, as long as everyone who isn't vaccinated (including children) are at low risk of developing severe COVID-19. This is because the vaccines are not 100% effective at preventing infection and possible spread to others in close contact.

  • 5
    Dive into a good book club.
    man at home attending to a video conference with online book club members reading together

    If you’ve been meaning to catch up on some light reading, there’s no better time than this summer, while many libraries allow you to check out and download resources with a digital library card. If you’re looking for a more social outlet, consider starting a virtual book club, on your own or through your local library where you can choose a book and start an online chat with your friends. Or create one with your kids or distant family members. Read a chapter book together each week, discuss the characters and plot, and ask questions to encourage critical thinking.

  • 6
    Connect over a picnic basket.

    While shops and restaurants have opened in many places, dining indoors or in close quarters is still not without risk when it comes to a highly contagious virus. Many people are opting for an outdoor summer picnic as an alternative way to connect in small groups, each bringing their own blanket and favorite food or takeout. However you choose to dine, remember to continue to keep your distance, wear a mask, have hand sanitizer nearby, cough or sneeze into your elbow, and stay home if you’re not feeling well.

  • 7
    Put on a show.
    children playing with paper puppets and painted cardboard box

    When the rainy days hit, it’s time to get creative, especially with kids. Put together a puppet show using paper bags, crayons, construction paper, and other household items. Plan an art show by challenging your children to draw a picture and then make it come alive with materials from the house or backyard. Or make it a talent show, incorporating singing, instruments, dancing, you name it. Use your imagination, and keep it light and silly!

  • 8
    Kill time with kindness.
    close up of a girl's hand writing a postcard

    Now, more than ever, kindness matters. And reaching out to those who are lonely and isolated can not only be a lifeline for the receiver, it can help us feel more connected and less isolated this summer too. Start a weekly calendar of calls to loved ones or friends who you know could use a check-in. Or reach out to local nursing homes and volunteer your time to make calls, write letters, or do other forms of virtual outreach. Find what speaks to you, and find a way to make a difference—from a safe distance—in your own community.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Jun 1
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
  1. A Summer Like No Other. The Harvard Gazette. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2020/05/you-can-have-outdoor-fun-in-the-covid-era-but-keep-your-distance/
  2. Visiting Parks and Recreational Facilities. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/visitors.html
  3. Family Activities to Try During Closures – Covid-19 Checklist. Ohio Department of Health. https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/families-and-individuals/coping-with-covid-19-anxiety/Family-Activities-to-Try-During-Closures-COVID-19
  4. Safe Indoor and Outdoor Activities for Families in the Time of Coronavirus. The Center for Discovery. https://thecenterfordiscovery.org/safe-indoor-and-outdoor-activities-for-families-in-the-time-of-coronavirus/
  5. Drive in movie theaters are making a comeback thanks to Coronavirus. CNN Business. https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/23/business/drive-in-movies/index.html