Visiting Parks and Recreational Facilities

Visiting Parks and Recreational Facilities

Protect Yourself and Others from COVID-19

What you need to know
  • Visit parks and recreation areas that are close to your home.
  • Don’t visit crowded parks or campgrounds.
  • Carefully consider use of playgrounds, and help children follow guidelines.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from people you don’t live with.
  • Wear a mask.
  • Wash your hands often and don’t share items with people you don’t live with.

Staying physically active is one of the best ways to keep your mind and body healthy. In many areas, people can visit parks, trails, and open spaces as a way to relieve stress, get some fresh air, and stay active. While these facilities and areas can offer health benefits, it is important that you follow the steps below to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

When visiting parks, beaches, or recreational facilities open for public use, try to protect against exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, by practicing social distancing and everyday steps such as washing hands often and covering coughs and sneezes.

At all parks and recreation areas

Follow these actions when visiting a park, beach, or recreational facility:

Visit parks that are close to your home

Traveling long distances to visit a park may contribute to the spread of COVID-19, as:

  • Travel may require you to stop along the way or be in close contact with others with whom you may not otherwise have contact.
  • Travel may also expose you to surfaces contaminated with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Check with the park or recreation area in advance to prepare safely

  • National, State, or local parks: the federal or State and local authorities will decide whether parks and other recreational facilities will open. Check with the park in advance to be sure you know which areas or services are open, such as visitors’ centers, bathroom facilities, and concessions, and bring what you need with you, such as hand sanitizer or other supplies to maintain proper hygiene.
  • Beaches or other swimming areas: State and local authorities will decide whether swim areas at oceans, lakes, and other natural bodies of water will be open. Please check with individual beaches for specific details, including whether the water is open for swimming.
    Couple sitting at park

    Stay at least 6 feet away from people you don’t live with

Use social distancing and avoid crowded parks 

  • Stay at least 6 feet from people you don’t live with (“social distancing”) at all times. This might make some open areas, trails, and paths better to use than others. Do not go into a crowded area.
  • Avoid gathering with people you don’t live with.
  • Avoid crowded parks. Do not visit parks where you cannot stay at least 6 feet away from people you don’t live with.

Wear a mask

  • Wear a mask as feasible. Masks are most essential in times when social distancing is difficult, including when hiking on trails that may be popular or crowded.
  • Masks should not be placed on:
    • Children under age 2
    • Anyone who has trouble breathing
    • Anyone who is unconscious, can’t move, or is otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance
  • Masks should not be worn when engaging in activities where the mask might become wet, like when swimming.

Clean hands often

  • 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.
  • Adults and older children who can safely use hand sanitizer: Use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol and rub hands together until dry, if soap and water are not readily available.

Stay home if you are sick

Do not visit parks if you are sick with, tested positive for COVID-19, or were recently (within 14 days) exposed to COVID-19.

  • If you are sick with or tested positive for COVID-19, were recently exposed (within 14 days) to someone with COVID-19, or just don’t feel well, do not visit public areas including parks or recreational facilities.
  • Follow recommended steps to take if you are sick.
At playgrounds
Close up of empty colorful swings at a playground

Playgrounds are often crowded and could make social distancing difficult

Follow the general principles listed above, plus the following….

Carefully consider use of playgrounds, and help children follow guidelines.

In communities where there is ongoing spread of COVID-19, playgrounds can be hard to keep safe because:

  • They are often crowded and could make social distancing difficult;
  • It can be difficult to keep surfaces clean and disinfected;
  • SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can spread when young children touch contaminated objects, and then touch their eyes, nose, or mouth.

If you choose to visit a playground:

  • Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet away from people you don’t live with.
  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
    • Adults and older children who can safely use hand sanitizer: Use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol and rub hands together until dry, if soap and water are not readily available.
When camping
Family Camping By Lake On Hiking Adventure In Forest

Camp and hike with people in your household

Follow the general principles listed above, plus the following….

  • Camp and hike with people in your household. Keep at least 6 feet away from others at the campsite, on trails, and in other areas of the park. If you choose to camp or hike with people outside your household, consider the following:
    • Camp in separate tents spaced out by at least 6 feet and avoid sharing camping supplies (including food and drinks).
    • There is no evidence that food or food packaging play a significant role in spreading the virus, but avoid sharing items such as serving utensils, multi-serving beverage containers, and condiment bottles with people outside your household.
  • Pack hand soap, hand sanitizer (containing at least 60% alcohol) and supplies to clean and disinfect commonly-touched surfaces. Restroom facilities without running water, such as portable toilets and vault toilets, may not be stocked with hand hygiene products.
  • Continue good hand hygiene practices after touching surfaces such as doors and handles, including those within bathroom and showers rooms, as well as water fountains or spigots, laundry facilities, ice machines, trash and recycling cans and bins, payment stations, vending machines, and other camping amenities. Here is more information on ways to protect yourself and others.
Water-related activities
A picture of a beach in the distance. A poster in the foreground states that people should keep at least 6 feet away from others while using the beach.

In or out of the water, stay at least 6 feet away from others

Follow the general principles listed above, plus the following….

There is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, or water playgrounds. Additionally, proper operation of these aquatic venues and disinfection of the water (with chlorine or bromine) should inactivate SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Learn what steps to take when visiting beaches, pools, and other water activities.