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Wednesday, July 14, 2021

How to Keep Your Family Safe During the Transition to Relaxed COVID-19 Guidelines

Photo by educadormarcossv (pixabay)

Without question, this summer is very different from last summer. Last summer, we were all encouraged to stay inside, stay within our bubble, and limit our exposure to others as much as possible. It felt like I spent most of the summer trying to find ways to make our home and yard entertaining enough to keep us all occupied and avoid going stir-crazy! After all, like many families, we were forgoing summer vacations, beloved traditions, and time with extended family and friends to comply with the safety measures recommended by health officials. So it's exciting and wonderful that the world is coming back online this year. That doesn't mean that this summer is without its own challenges, though. How do we start resuming normal activities while COVID-19 continues to be a threat?

Get Vaccinated

COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and people who have been fully vaccinated can resume normal activities and do not need to be tested or quarantine when traveling within the United States. Get vaccinated as soon as you can, and encourage your friends and family to do the same. Don't be afraid to ask family and friends who will be around your kids about their vaccination status. Not everyone can get vaccinated yet, but those who can should do so to keep themselves and others safe.

Wear a Mask Where Required

Restrictions are loosening, but masks are still required in some public spaces. Some stores and restaurants are asking patrons to continue wearing masks, and masks are required on public transportation like buses and planes. The unvaccinated, including young children, should continue to wear masks when out in public. Families with younger children might want to consider having all members wear masks if the kids balk: It's a lot easier for a small child to grasp the fact that your whole family wears masks.

Keep Up Handwashing and Sanitation Procedures

There was a point last year when people were sanitizing their groceries and leaving packages outside of their homes (that wasn't just me, right?). The more we learned about the virus and how it spread, the more we understood that those sorts of precautions weren't necessary. What is necessary is enforcing regular handwashing and keeping hand sanitizer with you for the times when handwashing isn't feasible. Not only is this a good precaution against COVID-19, but it's also a healthy habit that will help keep your family safe throughout their lives.

Focus on Outdoor Activities

Summer is a great time to be outside, and the fresh air and sunlight hamper the virus's ability to spread. Also, activities such as walking, hiking, camping, biking, and running are naturally socially distanced, making it easier to stay away from strangers while you have fun with your family.

Check Travel Advisories

Within the United States, there is no need for vaccinated people to get tested or quarantine before or after a trip. But that doesn't mean that different areas of the country don't have varying requirements for social distancing and mask-wearing. Most requirements vary on a state-by-state level, but different cities and municipalities can also have different guidelines. The same goes for other countries: The State Department has information on the requirements and restrictions other countries are placing on international visitors.

Be Kind to Yourself

Re-entry anxiety is real, and many people are feeling it. For more than a year, many of us have stayed away from public spaces and consistently worn masks. Now, we're supposed to just stop? The first time I ate in a restaurant after I was vaccinated, it was very strange. Here I was, with all of these other people, and we were all just breathing the same air and eating like it was 2019! If you're a bit nervous about going back to normal, it's OK to step back and take resuming normal life at a pace that feels right for you and your family. However, if your anxiety doesn't decrease, it's also OK to seek help. We've all experienced trauma from living through a pandemic, so don't be hard on yourself.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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