Photo of boy swimming in lake

This Version Posted: August 4, 2020

Heading to the beach this summer? It’s great for your well-being to be active and outdoors, while enjoying the water, sand and nice weather. But this summer during COVID-19, it’s a balancing act between enjoying the beach and protecting your loved ones from the virus.

With more people heading to the beach as they open for public use, plan ahead so you’re ready and know what to expect.

Do Not Come if You Are Sick:
  • If you or any member of your family are sick, stay home and self-isolate to prevent the spread of COVID-19. You must also stay home if you or a family member were recently exposed to someone with COVID-19
  • Use Ontario’s online COVID-19 Self-Assessment tool to help determine if you need to seek further care. 
Before Visiting the Beach:
  • Visit a beach close to your home. Traveling long distances to visit a beach may contribute to the spread of COVID-19.
  • Check the local municipal website to see if the beach has opened for the season or what restrictions/closures may be place there due to COVID-19.
  • Check the Health Unit website for the latest beach water test results in Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes to see if the water is safe for swimming. You can also call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5006.
  • Have a back-up plan. If the beach is too crowded and you can’t safely practise physical distancing by staying 2 metres (6 feet) away from others, consider another fun activity to do instead.
What to Bring to the Beach:
  • Hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes (stored in a cool dry place). Use these, especially if soap and water are unavailable
  • Items to help you keep your distance from others on the beach and in the water. For parents, tents, umbrellas and blankets can be good visual reminders for children. You can also put physical distancing into ‘fun’ terms for kids… like staying one hoola-hoop apart, three geese apart or six beach balls apart.
  • Sunscreen and sun protection (with SPF 30+)
  • Patience, especially if you need to wait to access the beach and other facilities.
Additional Measures to Take:
  • Hand Hygiene and Respiratory Etiquette
    • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
    • Use hand sanitizer when soap and water aren’t available
  • Cleaning and Disinfecting
    • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces such as picnic tables before and after use
    • Use handwashing facilities in washrooms and/or portable toilets. Beach/park staff should also be cleaning bathroom facilities hourly and deep-cleaning and disinfecting them  periodically through the day.
    • If desired, use hand sanitizer after accessing washrooms as an extra preventive step
  • Use of Face Coverings (Non-Medical Masks)
    • Wear a face covering if physical distancing is not possible
    • DO NOT wear a face covering in the water as it can make it hard to breathe
  • Keep Your Distance From Others
    • Practise physical distancing by staying 2 metres (6 feet) from others on the beach, in the water and in public washrooms. Think of the distance as the length of a pool noodle.
    • Carefully choose a spot on the beach that leaves enough space for you to stay a safe distance from others. Maintain at least 4 metres (12 feet) between blanketed areas
    • Avoid crowded areas and do not gather with others outside of your family/household
  • Avoid Large Gatherings
    • Follow signs and listen to municipal staff/lifeguards who may be there to direct, assist and remind about distancing.
    • Do NOT take part in organized activities like beach volleyball, frisbee, football, etc.
When You Arrive at the Beach:
  • Review all signs before entering the beach/park
  • Give other beach-goers time and space to safely enter or exit vehicles
  • Know what to expect at the beach:
    • Parking attendants may be stationed at some locations
    • Access to beach may be different. For example, walkways may be single file to enter/exit the beach. Standing in walkways may not be permitted to allow for foot traffic
    • Parking capacity may be reduced to limit the number of people on the beach at once
    • You may have to stand in line for washrooms, as the number of people allowed inside is limited to allow for physical distancing
  • When swimming, avoid swallowing water, spitting or spouting
  • Take your garbage and recyclables home for safe disposal, especially mask and gloves
  • Be safe in the water, especially keeping a close eye on children and new swimmers.

The Health Unit is working closely with local municipalities to ensure beaches are safe for public use during COVID-19. Play your part too by following these precautions to reduce the risk of illness. Doing so can make a day at the beach fun – and safer – for everyone!

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