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Camping this weekend? Here are some tips to keep you safe

With the unofficial start of summer around the corner, it's important remain diligent with social distancing in the fight against COVID-19.

DENVER — For many Colorado families, getting outside to camp and enjoy the nice weather is a Memorial Day Weekend tradition. 

Many state parks across Colorado reopened last week with restrictions and social distancing measures in place. Those looking to camp at a state park must make a reservation ahead of time. 

Other developed campsites across the state have been opening on a rolling basis, and although not recommended, dispersed camping is an option in many of the state's forest lands. 

But with with the state's safer-at-home order still in effect due to the COVID-19 pandemic, recreating in the great outdoors comes with some adjustments. 

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It’s important to note that under the order, residents are asked to recreate within ten miles of their home. Gov. Polis has said previously that camping this summer will look quite a bit different than in previous years as social distancing and other restrictions are implemented at campgrounds. 

9Health Expert Dr. Payal Kohli said that transmission of the virus is actually significantly lower in open, outdoor spaces than it is indoors. Dr. Kohli said there are some steps you can take to keep yourself safe and help slow the spread of COVID-19: 

  • Book a campsite near your home in advance. 
  • Make sure to fill up your car with all the supplies you need (food, water, sanitizers, trash bags, first aid kits, prescription meds)
  • Camp in an isolated area to limit exposure to other people

For those who don't camp, Dr. Kohli recommends having a socially distant picnic, taking a hike or bike ride in a secluded area, or hosting a backyard barbecue with fewer than 10 people. 

Other tips for staying safe while recreating outdoors: 

  • Take extra water to wash your hands with while camping. Dr. Kohli said if your hands are visibly soiled, hand sanitizers does not work to inactivate the virus.
  • Avoid congregating in public restrooms and avoid going into a stall right after someone else. Always sanitize your hands afterwards.
  • Try not to stop at gas stations. Anytime you stop and touch the gas pump or go into a convenience store there's not only a risk of infection from someone else but also the risk of touching a contaminated surface. 

Dr. Kohli said any time we leave our houses we're exposing ourselves to risk but that camping can be a great way to ring in the unofficial start to summer if you take the right precautions. 

“As we shift into this new model, where this is going to be our life, we have to think about how we can leave our house safely and do it in ways that are something we can maintain over time," Dr. Kohli said.

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