“It bugs me to see these restrictions on people being outside,” said Edward Nardell, a professor in the departments of Environmental Health and Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Nardell told Slate that he favors opening the beaches, so long as social distancing rules are put in place and enforced.
And no beach has reopened in Florida without social distancing guidelines. Jacksonville, the first city to open the proverbial floodgates, has banned sunbathing and prohibited beachgoers from bringing coolers, grills, and chairs. Organized beach sports are also forbidden. Put differently, you are allowed to walk or jog on the beach, and you are allowed to go swimming.
The beach is no bogeyman when beachgoers follow social distancing guidelines. Indeed, it might even be safer than a busy urban sidewalk, where individuals don’t always have the luxury of staying six feet apart. Of course, even sidewalks are not necessarily that high of a risk. According to Daniel Kuritzkes, the chief of the infectious disease division at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, “I don’t think there’s a real concern” about catching COVID-19 from walking past someone. Kuritzkers told Boston Magazine that such brief interactions—if you can even call them that—carry low risk for COVID-19 transmissions, though it’s still recommended that everyone dons a face mask.