Get outside, but avoid the crowd

Johnson City Press • Mar 20, 2020 at 11:52 AM

Thursday officially was the first day of spring, and as if by magic, the temperature in Johnson City reached the mid-70s.

Warmer weather could not have arrived at a better time. With movie theaters, restaurants and other public places closed to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), cabin fever was bound to set in.

Practicing social distancing does not mean you have to park your posterior on the couch. You can enjoy the outdoors if you practice some common sense — unlike the hoards of spring-breakers who stupidly crowded onto beaches over the last week. Many traditional destinations finally shut down, and Florida’s governor ordered bars to close.

Yes, spring break is a rite of passage for college students. But in this extraordinary time of caution, the last thing anyone should do is squeeze into a car for a long trip, overstuff a hotel room, party all night in a bar and recline inches apart on a beach.

We hate to break this to young people: While you may not be among the highest risk groups for COVID-19’s effects, you are not immune and you certainly are not invulnerable. At a minimum, congregating en masse means you risk spreading the virus to older family members and others at risk.

We offer the same caution about how people should take advantage of the outdoors locally. While Johnson City has closed its indoor recreation centers, its parks remain open for hiking, walking, running and biking. Pine Oaks Golf Course also is open for business. The same goes for the Tweetsie Trail and Johnson City Development Authority’s two downtown parks, King Commons and Founders Park. State parks also remain open.

Enjoy these places solo or in small groups. Limit personal contact and maintain safe distances in the process. Crowded playgrounds are not the place for kids.

For tips on how to stay safe on trails and other outdoor spots, visit the National Recreation and Park Association’s website at www.nrpa.org.

And if you have a family reunion or other gathering planned in the coming weeks for any venue — inside or out — please postpone. We’d hate to see entire families infected in one swoop.

The forecast over the next few days is a tad damper and cooler, but warmer, sunnier conditions should be back within the week. Getting outside — even just strolling through your neighborhood — could be a much-needed and healthy break from COVID-19 anxiety.

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