Going to the beach? CDC releases new guidelines for beaches

Florida reopening beaches amid coronavirus pandemic

Even with social distancing still in place, Georgians and Americans across the country naturally want to soak up the sun this summer.

With the possibility of folks hitting public beaches in droves, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced new guidelines for beachgoers in an effort to curb the growing number of COVID-19 cases in several states.

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Many popular beach locations in the Southeast, including Myrtle Beach in South Carolina and Miami Beach in Florida, are reporting high numbers of COVID-19 cases as summer vacation season gets underway. President Donald Trump said in a recent interview that COVID-19 will eventually “fade away” even without vaccines, but Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, warned otherwise Tuesday.

"I think there certainly were states that did not strictly follow the guidelines that we put out about opening America again," Fauci told NPR's "1A" program, adding, "Clearly, there were states who, left to their own decision about that, went ahead and opened to a varying degree, maybe even — I wouldn't say 'too soon' — but certainly before they got to the benchmarks they needed to get."

With cases rising in some popular beach states, the CDC suggests that beach managers do what is “feasible, practical, and acceptable, and be tailored to the needs of each community.”

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What is the hierarchy of risks?

Lowest risk: Staff and beach visitors stay at least 6 feet away from people they don't live with. Staff and beach visitors do not share food, equipment, toys, or supplies with people they don't live with.

More risk: Staff and beach visitors get closer — less than 6 feet away from people they don't live with but who live in the same local area*. Staff and beach visitors limit their sharing of food, equipment, toys, or supplies with others — for example, they share only with a next-door neighbor.

Highest risk: Staff and beach visitors get closer — less than 6 feet away from people who live in a different area (town, city or county) where the spread of the virus might be greater. Staff and beach visitors freely share their food, equipment, toys, or supplies with others, even people they don't know.

Guidelines for those headed to the beach:

Social distancing 

  • Encourage social distancing—staff and beach visitors should stay at least 6 feet away (both in and out of the water) from people they don't live with.
  • Exceptions should be made to

−Rescue a distressed swimmer, provide first aid, or perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR); or

−Evacuate the water or entire beach due to an emergency.

−Limit occupancy of small spaces (such as bathrooms and visitor centers) to make it easy for staff and beach visitors to stay at least 6 feet away from people they don’t live with.

  • Encourage staff and beach visitors to carpool or vanpool only with people in their household.

Cloth face coverings: Encourage use of cloth face coverings among staff and beach visitors. Face coverings should be worn when feasible and are most essential at times when social distancing is difficult.

  • Advise those wearing cloth face coverings to not wear them in the water, because they can be difficult to breathe through when they're wet. This means it is particularly important to maintain social distancing in the water.
  • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on

− Children younger than 2 years old or

− Anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance.

Cleaning and disinfection 

Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces (such as handrails, water slides, door handles, and bathroom faucets) at least daily and shared objects (such as lounge chairs, umbrellas, life jackets, oars, kayaks, wake boards, surf boards, paddle boards, and swim fins) between users. Check here for appropriate disinfectants.

Hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette 

  • Encourage handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available,
  • Adults and older children who can safely use hand sanitizer should use one that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Shared objects 

  • Discourage staff and beach visitors from sharing items that are difficult to clean, sanitize, or disinfect or that are meant to come in contact with the face (such as goggles, nose clips, and snorkels).
  • Discourage staff and beach visitors from sharing items such as food, equipment, toys, and supplies with those they don't live with.
  • Ensure adequate equipment for beach visitors (such as life jackets) to minimize sharing or limit use of equipment to one group of users at a time and clean and disinfect between users.