Editor’s Note — There are few no-risk activities during the Covid-19 pandemic, but there are ways to mitigate risks. Fully vaccinated people are, of course, at much lower risk of contracting and spreading coronavirus than people who haven’t been vaccinated. CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen advises approaching your activity decisions with that in mind.
(CNN) — If you’re wondering whether an amusement park is a safe place to have fun after more than a year of pandemic struggles, know that the answer isn’t black-and-white.
Employees sanitize roller coaster seats at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California, on April 2 — the second day that the park reopened after more than a year of being closed because of the pandemic.
Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images
That can apply to permanent amusement parks, too, said CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and visiting professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.
“If the amusement park is entirely outdoors and you’re going at a time when it’s not a bunch of people packed into a very small space, if you can keep some pretty good physical distancing, and if masks are required, I would feel pretty good about going,” Wen said. “That changes if any of those factors are not there.
“If it’s outdoors, there’s going to be very good air circulation. We now know that surfaces are not the major issue.”
Before you go to an amusement park
Also, look at online review forums and navigation apps to see what the experiences of recent guests have been, Wen suggested. “Does it seem like masking is enforced? Also, what are the most crowded times, and what does it look like when it’s crowded? Are you able to maintain physical distancing? If not, you may want to reconsider the trip.”
If you have children, set their expectations for what the trip may be like.
“Discuss with the family, in advance, about what to do, including if you show up and it’s too crowded and you may need to leave,” Wen said. “Kids may otherwise be very disappointed if that were to occur.”
While you’re at the park
While you’re there, you’ll need hand sanitizer to use before and after you touch things — such as ATMs or handrails — or eat.
“We don’t know how frequently they’re wiping down those rides,” so bring sanitizing wipes as well, said Dr. Ada Stewart, a family physician with Cooperative Health in Columbia, South Carolina, and the president of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
When you’re on rides, “a lot of times you’re screaming,” said Regina Davis Moss, the associate executive director of health policy and practice at the American Public Health Association. “These are also potential opportunities for droplet spread.” Avoid rides that don’t allow for enough space between groups from different households — and remember to keep your mask on at all times.
Avoid touching shared items, such as gaming equipment, if you haven’t seen park staff clean it between guests. If you do play arcade games, make sure that only your group is at the booth. Pay attention to any signs or markings that encourage you to physically distance and stay aware of your surroundings.