It's safe to say summer 2020 is going to be one like any other.
As states continue to re-open amid the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, many are uncertain and being cautious about how to navigate the new normal and re-enter public places. And with the temperatures heating up and fun in the sun calling, people are hoping to safely enjoy some of their favorite summer activities, like going to the beach, taking a road trip and eating out at their favorite restaurant.
But is it really safe to do so?
To help get some answers about whether or not you should venture out to get your nails done or hit a public pool, we turned to The Doctors' Dr. Travis Stork, who also hosts his own podcast, The Travis Stork Show, for guidance on how to do so safely.
For the new father, who welcomed his first child, a son named Grayson, with his wife Parris in June, it's all about protecting one another by wearing facial coverings "in any public place," with Dr. Stork telling E!, "If we're all smart together we can walk this path right down the middle and all come together, protecting ourselves and protecting others.
"Keeping that in mind as we really reopen things I think would serve people well," he continues. "So when you're wearing the face mask, it may not be so much to protect you. But you're protecting the world around you."
And when it comes to going to a restaurant or heading on a road trip this summer, Dr. Stork says, "Everything with this pandemic is risk/reward."
"If you're super healthy, and not too worried about the virus and you don't live or regularly see someone who's that high risk, well you might say you going out to dinner shouldn't be bad," he explains. "No big deal. If you're a little more hesitant to say, you know, maybe you live with an elderly parent who had some health issues."
Dr. Stork evaluated the risk of of several summer activities for us, including tips on how to enjoy them safely while protecting yourself and others.
Eating Out at a Restaurant
While restaurants are opening for indoor and outdoor dining across the country, Dr. Stork advises, "Something that we've been doing throughout the pandemic, the safest practice is to order takeout. That way you're still supporting the restaurant, and you're eating at home with your utensils, at your dinner table."
But if you do want to get out of the house and eat at a restaurant, Dr. Stork recommends outdoor seating. "You could certainly be at a greater risk," if you sit inside, he warns.
Regardless of whether you sit inside, Dr. Stork says to practice social distancing and vigilance.
"Just be aware that you know you have to assume even the pen you use the sign the check could have the virus on it," he says, "so it's just a matter of learning how to live with the mindset that the things around you, the people around you might be infected without them even knowing."
Nail and Beauty Salons/Barbershops
Listen, we get it. After months practicing social distancing, your hair, skin and nails are likely in need of some major TLC. And Dr. Stork says that if it's "a risk-reward worth taking" for you "it's just a matter of wearing a face covering…making sure that when you go again that they're going things the right way."
Like with many other activities, the key here is practicing good hygiene, especially avoiding touching your face or removing your mask at all.
"But I think if you're doing those things you're really greatly reducing your risk because if you think about it this way. If you're wearing a mask—the best practice that you're engaging in—if you're an asymptomatic carrier, you're preventing yourself from spreading it," he explains. "And if, let's say a nail salon someone's working on your nail. The two of you are wearing masks, you're greatly reducing the risk of transmission."
Traveling and Rest Stops
Whether you are flying somewhere, driving or taking public transportation, Dr. Stork says "It's the same method, regardless of the methodology of travel."
Dr. Stork says make sure you are washing your hands, wearing facial coverings and avoid touching your face regardless if you are on a plane or in a car.
"One of the things that I've started to do during the pandemic is I'll actually make sure that in my pocket I have a few paper towels and I will actually use those," he says.
Because he was moving during the pandemic, Dr. Stork found himself on a road trip and needing to fill his gas tank.
"I filled the gas tank up and actually used a little paper towel to touch it," he explains, "All of the knobs."
And he uses the same strategy while using a public restroom, using the paper towel to turn the faucet on and off.
The pool itself isn't the concern, as Dr. Stork explains the water "is properly disinfected that's likely not an issue."
What people should be evaluating is "how crowded is that pool? Would I go to a public pool that is packed with a lot of people that are engaging in social behavior? I wouldn't."
One of the biggest issues with public pools is people may be more lax when it comes to practicing good hygiene, leading Dr. Stork to say, "I think it's a very high risk behavior, in terms of possibly getting the virus. To me, if it's a really crowded pool personally, you're not gonna see me there. And so I think it's smart especially for parents with kids to take stock of if it's a pool where they have been disinfecting."
Going to the Beach
Similar to his views on going to public pools, it's all about how crowded the beach is and assessing the potential risks.
"You can go to the beach, hang out in the sand or swim in the ocean and be perfectly safe," Stork explains, "but if you go to the beach, and there's hundreds of people congregated within inches of one another."
If you do go to the beach, "it's about finding space," and making sure you are at least six feet away from others.
Dr. Travis Stork is host of The Travis Stork Show podcast, which can be found on all leading distribution platforms. Check your local listings for The Doctors weekdays.
—Reporting by Beth Sobol