Editor's Note — There are few no-risk activities during the Covid-19 pandemic, but there are ways to mitigate risks. Fully vaccinated people are, of course, at much lower risk of contracting and spreading coronavirus than people who haven't been vaccinated. CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen advises approaching your activity decisions with that in mind.
(CNN) — With summer around the corner and more people getting Covid-19 vaccines, you may be wondering whether going to the beach is a safe bet.
Even for people who have been fully vaccinated, "nothing is going to be 100% safe, just like nothing is going to be 100% risk," said CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and visiting professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. However, beaches "are much safer than other settings because they are outdoors."
Pictured is St. Kilda beach in Dunedin, New Zealand. As the world slowly reopens, visiting beaches can be safer than traveling to indoor destinations.
"We have not seen that (coronavirus) can be spread in the water," said Dr. Ada Stewart, a family physician with Cooperative Health in Columbia, South Carolina, and the president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. Whether you're at the beach by yourself or with fully vaccinated family or friends, Stewart added, what helps reduce risk is having your own area to relax in.
Always check the regulations of the local government, public health office and beach in advance, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended. The beach managers may be requiring reservations or limited capacity. Also, plan to arrive "swim ready" by showering and changing at home first. For times when you may have to be closer to people -- like when you visit the restroom or concession stand -- wear a mask, carry hand sanitizer and wash your hands. The CDC has advised beach managers to ensure there is enough equipment -- such as chairs and other supplies -- for visitors and that everything is cleaned regularly. However, bringing hand sanitizer and disinfectant spray or wipes would be useful for cleaning equipment yourself. If you need to shower or rinse off at the beach, try to physically distance from others or go in when the area isn't crowded. Bring an extra mask in case your first mask gets wet; according to the CDC, a wet mask is less effective. And don't wear your mask in the water, since a wet mask can also make breathing difficult.
Distance yourself -- on land and in water -- from people who don't live with you. Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated indoor areas.
Coronavirus commonly spreads through respiratory droplets during close physical contact, so Wen is more worried "about what happens if people leave the beach and end up going to the bar." Even if people are distanced in places like indoor bars and restaurants, wearing a mask is still best if you might be sharing air.
For lengthy beach getaways, plan ahead for what refreshments, meals and drinks you'll enjoy -- and where and how you'll enjoy them -- while there. Outdoor restaurants and bars are ideal, Wen said.