Your guide to summer: How to enjoy outdoor activities despite the pandemic

Summer doesn’t have to be cancelled.

As Canada slowly starts to reopen amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, it’s no surprise Canadians may feel like they’re getting the shorter end of the stick this season.


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From cancelled vacations, events and music festivals to restrictions at patios and restaurants, the summer of 2020 just doesn’t feel the same.

But this doesn’t mean you still can’t enjoy warmer weather in a safe way. Below, experts break down how to still enjoy the outdoors while protecting yourself from the virus.

Seeing friends or family outside

Most provinces have opened parks and outdoor spaces, while some have even created “social bubbles.

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Kate Mulligan, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, previously told Global News being outdoors is better than staying indoors.


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“There are safer ways to socialize right now,” Mulligan said. “One of the safest ways to do it is by getting outside where the risk of transmission is quite low.”

She added if you properly maintain physical distance from others outside you have a relatively low risk of contracting COVID-19.

However, enjoying the outdoors with members of your immediate household or social circle is still considered the safest, she said.

Swimming at pools or beaches

Pools and beaches are quintessential summer escapes, but how safe are they during a pandemic?

Previously speaking with Global News, Kay Bidle, a professor of microbial oceanography at Rutgers University, said even in water, you have to practise social distancing. 

“At the beaches, there’s usually enhanced wind … so what that does is it increases the distance by which these things can be transported.”

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Coronavirus: Toronto unveils plans for return of city pools, summer camps


Coronavirus: Toronto unveils plans for return of city pools, summer camps

For pools, keep track of how many people are swimming.

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“Is it possible to have kids playing in a backyard pool and keep six feet away?” Bidle asked. “If you have a bunch of kids from different families or different bubbles getting together, those kids, it’s easy if one of them is infected or asymptomatic for it to spread.”

Camping in the great outdoors

Many provinces have allowed residents to partake in some campgrounds and private parks.

In Alberta and B.C., campgrounds opened June 1, except for backcountry cabins and grounds that require visitors to use shared cooking facilities.

Colin Furness, a professor at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto, previously told Global News camping may be of concern for some.

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COVID-19 pandemic has more Albertans looking at camping on Crown land


COVID-19 pandemic has more Albertans looking at camping on Crown land

“I understand why campgrounds are going to open, and overall, it’s probably better to do it than not just in terms of mental health and the bigger picture… to give people things that they can do,” he said.

“I much rather people (camp) than go hang out in the mall, for example.”

His concern is camping with large groups.

“That’s starting to make me less comfortable, particularly because hygiene is not No. 1 when you’re camping,” he said. “So mixing households, and there’s not a lot of washing going on or hand hygiene, the risk is going to go up.”

Driving to the cottage

Public health officials unanimously agreed Canadians didn’t travel to their cottages, cabins or summer homes until the threat of spreading the virus had significantly decreased. However, some are still bending the rules to vacation in their other homes.

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Furness recently told Global News if you do plan to leave the city for a mini getaway, you have a “real responsibility” for what you do in the space.


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This means being mindful where you grocery shop.

“Bringing your own food and your own stuff to drink and not going to any grocery stores, (liquor stores) or drug stores is the No. 1 thing,” Furness said.

Going for a run

Brian Conway, medical director at the Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre, previously told Global News running is considered safe, as long as runners keep two metres apart from other people.

“The two-metre safety zone is established to cover a distance within which any virus that is present in the air could realistically travel and be transmitted from one person to another,” he said.


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Who to contact if you have COVID-19 symptoms


Who to contact if you have COVID-19 symptoms

For some, like Heather Gardner, a New Balance Ambassador who is also a trainer, enjoying running in a pandemic means changing gear and routes.

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“I’m trying to get out for my runs during times of day that are less busy. So for me that’s around 10 a.m. or 2 p.m.,” she said. “I’ve also started wearing a neck tube (a Buff) … part of the area I run in has many seniors [and] want seniors and others in my community to feel safe too.”

Similar rules can be said for walking and cycling.

Summertime upgrades

Enjoying the summer also means spending some time on those upgrades you’ve been ignoring pre-pandemic.

From updating your patio to getting a WiFi booster to investing in an air conditioner, here are all the ways to upgrade your summer.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus.

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In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

— With files from Global News’ Laura Hensley, Olivia Bowden, Leslie Young, Erica Alini and Meghan Collie

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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