We are in the middle of our third summer in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Combined with the desire to finally catch some rays outside and the hopeful statistics of declining COVID cases, everyone knows that now is the prime time to go on vacation at last. While we’re itching to finally unwind with our pals on our dream destinations, we should also take the ongoing pandemic into account for our own safety. Here are a few tips on how to enjoy your summer vacation in a pandemic climate.

Check your local covid-19 stats

You should ALWAYS take note of how your local spots are faring with the pandemic, as some more well-known and well-visited locations have significantly larger numbers of active COVID-19 cases in the area (NCR and CALABARZON have the highest number of active cases at the moment, with Manila and Cavite each recording almost 200 new cases in two weeks according to the Department of Health (DOH).

Keeping track of local COVID-19 stats will increase your chances of not catching the virus, and it could even lead you to beautiful hidden tourist spots. Bicol region, one of the five regions with the fewest number of active cases, boasts some of the most beautiful (and secluded!) black- and white-sand beaches, and BARMM, the region with the fewest cases, houses a ton of marvelous Islamic sights (not to mention our secret favorite, the UNESCO-recognized Turtle Islands Wildlife Sanctuary). Speaking of which…

Avoid the more popular attractions

With the looming threat of COVID-19 becoming palpable as more people flock to popular attractions, it would be wise to steer clear of tourist faves for now.

Local government units choose to enact less strict rules once their tourist attractions see growth in foot traffic, and while it usually is done with careful consideration that involves a lot of research and planning (Baguio famously opened its doors to a dizzying 20,000 tourists last month after enforcing strict entry requirements), you can never be too careful. COVID-19 community transmission from neighboring provinces is still a huge factor in the spread of the virus these days, so it’s best to stick with quieter mom-and-pop attractions or local nature reserves.

Pandemic Summer Vacation Tips

Eat al fresco

Most of the time, eating outside your favorite restaurants is less risky than eating inside, and maintaining social distancing during outside meals is a surefire way to keep the risk of contracting the virus as low as possible.

In an interview with CNN, various health and environment experts confirmed that COVID-contaminated air from carriers builds up in enclosed spaces as there’s usually little to no room for air circulation, but outside the virus dissipates enough to almost be dismissible (with proper social distancing, mind you).

Pair this practice with frequent handwashing and disinfecting, as well as regular vaccination (which we will get to in a bit), and you’ll be at your safest against the pandemic while enjoying your meals outside.

Try to be up-to-date with your vaccinations

According to data collected by DOH, COVID-19 vaccines can have efficacy rates as high as 97%, with boosters providing virtually the same amount of effectiveness in combating the virus according to peer-reviewed international science journal, Nature.

Getting vaccinated (and keeping on schedule with receiving booster shots) is the most impactful, most important safety measure against the deadly disease. Taking the shots doesn’t only keep you from harm, it also ensures the safety of the people around you to a great extent. The virus relies on its carriers to spread itself everywhere, so getting you and your family vaccinated before going on a vacation, tackles the root of the problem head-on.

KEEP YOUR MASKS ON (as much as possible)

Aside from when you really need to take it off (grabbing a drink or enjoying a snack at a diner), ALWAYS wear your masks!

COVID-19 transmits itself by contaminating droplets and small airborne particles, and these are notoriously easy to be breathed in by anyone in close proximity. Wearing your masks virtually renders the virus’ airborne transmissions useless, so make sure that your nose and mouth are always covered!

BONUS: Have a good time

Today is definitely one of the bleakest chapters of our lives, where sickness and death still loom over our shoulders even when it’s time to unwind and relax with our friends and families. COVID-19 is a lethal threat that should be acknowledged and fought with safety and science at all times, but this doesn’t mean that we can no longer have fun.

Make sure to enjoy your time with the people who matter: hug them, sing and laugh with them, but don’t forget to also protect them while also protecting yourself. Defending yourself from COVID-19 and having a blast aren’t mutually exclusive. After all, at the end of the day, the joys of our summer plans come from the memories we make with the people we love!

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