How to Be Safe as Lockdown Ends

Updated on July 2, 2020

We’re seeing that even states hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic with some of the longest lockdowns are now coming out of them, such as New York and New Jersey. That’s good news for many who want to see the economy start to rebound, but it can also be scary because the coronavirus is still very much an issue. 

In fact, many states have seen recent spikes in cases. 

There are a number of health and safety concerns people have during this time, including not only the risks of the virus itself but also the other adverse effects that might come with returning to society more fully.

For example, things like car accidents were down during lockdown. Now, accidents and other injuries may increase again as businesses reopen, although we don’t know that for sure yet. 

Regardless, the following are tips to stay safe and healthy when you return to work and the world. 

Follow Guidelines from Local Government

In general, there are still guidelines even in states that reopened months ago that guide safety and public health, so if you’re nervous about returning to work, or you’re a business owner, familiarize yourself with them. 

For example, under New York’s initial phase of reopening, people were instructed to avoid gatherings of more than ten people, and they were advised to minimize non-essential travel. 

If you’re an employer and you can still have employees telecommute, it may be a good idea to continue that. Telecommuting has other benefits even outside of a pandemic, such as the fact that employees like it so it can reduce turnover. 

As always, you should take individual steps to protect your health too, such as frequently washing and sanitizing your hands. 

Wear a Face-Covering

The CDC and nearly all other government entities are still advising that everyone wear face coverings if possible but in particular when you can’t otherwise maintain social distancing. 

The idea is that if everyone wears a covering, you are generally reducing the spread of covid-19, and even if you aren’t showing symptoms, but you have the virus, you can lower the risk of transmitting it to others. 

The basis for wearing face coverings is relatively simple, in that even though they aren’t perfect, they can prevent respiratory droplets from spreading. 

For children under two, or anyone who has trouble breathing, face coverings are not recommended. 

Stay Outdoors When Possible

There are different reasons that being outdoors can help reduce the transmission of a respiratory virus, and if you are nervous about returning to the world, try to focus on doing more things outdoors. For example, if you’re going to a restaurant, try to find one that offers outdoor seating. In some cities, only outdoor dining is available anyway. 

You can also minimize your overall contact, even if you are gradually entering back into the world, by using things that are still available like grocery delivery and curbside pickup at retailers. 

One reason that some experts believe indoor spaces may be more susceptible to virus spread, along with the more obvious things of open-air vs. indoor air, is air conditioning systems. Just keep this in mind, and make sure you do wear your facial covering indoors in particular. 

Air conditioning systems are in high demand right now as we’re at the height of summer. 

Speak to Your Employer About Your Concerns

If your biggest concern is returning to work, you aren’t alone, but there are things you can do. Before you head back to work, if you can’t telecommute, speak to your employer about what they’re doing to make sure employees are safer. 

They should be able to answer that question easily and things they mention might include partitions and a one-way office. 

If your employer can’t answer those kinds of questions, talk to them about your own concerns and if you have any, make suggestions as to what you’d like to see to feel more comfortable. 

Finally, take care of your mental and emotional health. The past few months have been distressing in many ways for people around the world. 

A big part of moving into a new phase where perhaps you spend more time out and about, albeit cautiously, means that you are going to face different mental health challenges than you perhaps did in the past few months. Take care of yourself and keep that in mind throughout this time. 

If you feel that something is too much for you, then take a step back and wait until you’re ready. 

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