In 30 seconds…
Certain feelings have practically vanished since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic ― the most major of which is hope.
The past year-plus has been heavy and exhausting, with barely enough time to breathe before the next piece of not-so-great COVID-19 news drops. It seems, though, that we are rounding a corner as cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to drop and vaccines become more available.
So where does that leave us? Below, experts shared their expectations for summer 2021 throughout the country based on how the pandemic is going right now:
There will likely be fewer restrictions, as more people get vaccinated
According to the experts the vaccines are absolutely our way out of this pandemic.
Timothy Brewer, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, added that as people continue to get vaccinated into the spring and summer, he expects that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will relax some of its guidelines and restrictions.
So, as more and more people get their shots and are protected from severe COVID-19 and death, we can expect to be able to safely do many of the activities we’ve missed out on over the past year.
Outdoor gatherings will likely become a safe norm
One of the things that we are feeling better about is the data around SARS-CoV-2 transmission and recognizing that outdoor activities have not turned out, as best as we can tell, to be a significant factor in pushing the pandemic forward, referring to the fact that the threat of virus spread is low in socially distant, outdoor settings.
The experts are expecting outdoor gatherings to increase (and perhaps even expand in size slightly) as a safe way for individuals to get together. So, for the first time in ages, we can likely have that barbecue with friends.
Restaurants will probably lean heavily on outdoor dining
Outdoor dining and drinking with appropriate spacing and physical barriers will also likely be a summer staple for many throughout the country.
This is good news for everyone, and especially for those who miss visiting a neighborhood restaurant for a meal — takeout has been a great way to support local restaurants over the past year, but certain foods just don’t travel well. Plus, there’s just something better about sitting at a restaurant and having dinner and a drink.
Beaches and pools will be a relatively safe way to enjoy the warm weather
When it comes to quintessential warm-weather activities like visiting the beach or pool, people should feel comfortable participating.
A great advantage of the beach [is] that you can spread out and enjoy the fresh air and water, noting that pools offer this same relative safety.
They said, it’s important to use common sense while engaging in these activities. “Maintaining a safe distance remains important until more people are immunized and the pandemic is clearly on the way out,” Experts says.
For this reason, he’s still wary of water parks, where crowding is known to happen on waterslide staircases and in line to the pool. “People should still use caution when spending time at water parks that have such features,” Experts says.
Travel will probably increase, but it comes with risks
Airports are starting to see more traffic now, and it’s arguably only going to increase as we move into warmer weather and more people are vaccinated.
This, however, comes with increased risk of transmission; it’s still best to stay home while we’re getting the pandemic under control. Experts say long-haul leisure travel and vacations likely won’t be advisable until later in the year (at the earliest). The CDC still recommends avoiding travel unless it’s absolutely necessary ― even if you’re vaccinated.
Variants will appear and COVID-19 transmission will continue
The outlook for the summer is generally sunny: We can look forward to eased restrictions, more available vaccines and social gatherings with those who are vaccinated.
But the fear of new, more transmissible SARS-CoV-2 variants is real ― especially if they’re more resistant to vaccines. Experts are tracking new strains very closely. Additionally, monitoring the spread of variants in unvaccinated areas will continue into the summer as well. We’ll see much more general preparedness compared to last year.
While things could take a turn for the worse, the data is not currently extremely worrisome ― and by wearing masks, social distancing, washing our hands and getting the vaccine when it’s your turn, we’ll help slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants.