JUNE 10, 2020

To leave or not to leave

BY OLEEN FLORENDO
HEADER ILLUSTRATION BY GIAN NICDAO

Here’s how you can (safely and responsibly) spend your time outdoors.

We have to keep in mind that even if the economy is slowly reopening, the virus is still here. It’s easy to feel complacent, but until a vaccine is available, we have to follow preventive measures as more people trickle out. Times like these, we have to take it upon ourselves that our safety is now a shared responsibility. This means continually following the most basic but most crucial guidelines: wear your mask at all times when you’re outside, keep at least a two-meter distance from people, and regularly wash your hands with soap and sanitizers.

Limiting our time outdoors is one of the most effective strategies to slow down the spread. Knowing this, it’s still close to impossible to just wait out the pandemic at home, not with necessities that need to be constantly bought, jobs that need to be kept, and even our own mental health needing a change of scenery. So, here’s what to consider before deciding to leave your homes and how you can safely gear up for it:

I need to run an essential errand but I live with a high-risk family member, should I still leave?

Everyone can be a silent spreader and each time we leave our homes, we risk increasing the possibility of infection along with our vulnerable family members. If you know anyone who can safely do your errands, now’s the time to ask for a little favor.

If it doesn’t work out, plan your day before going out. Lesser time fumbling around, the lesser possible exposure. Maximize it by making a one-time trip for your errands and if the budget allows, stock essentials that’ll last for at least two weeks. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends to schedule it during off-peak hours to give you the comfort of safety.

I lack ingredients for a dish. Should I do a quick grocery run?

Ideally, no. If you’re able to put this off and experiment with the ones in your pantry, then you’re better off with that than risking the outdoors. But you can also consider online groceries or a personal shopper through Ayala Malls DELIVEReasY. A little wait time won’t hurt if it means you’re safer.

But if you can personally ensure physical distancing, grab a washable cloth bag and be conscious of areas you’ll touch. While transmission from food packaging is very low, it’s still safer to touch what you only intend to buy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doesn’t recommend wearing gloves, but rather making sure you’ve wiped your cart and hands with at least a coin-size amount of sanitizer is enough.

My work needs me, but it’s not considered mandatory. Should I still go?

While this is under your employer’s discretion, make sure you have exhausted all possible arrangements to work remotely before reporting back to work.

If it’s absolutely necessary, avoid packed areas at all costs. Use your elbows, knuckles, or other objects when pushing elevator buttons and opening doors, which are considered high-touch areas. WHO advises that it’s best to regularly disinfect shared surfaces including keyboards and telephones because it’s how the virus mainly spreads in the workplace.

I miss eating out. Should I order takeout or have my cravings delivered instead?

We know you’ve been missing your comfort food and while most restaurants have reopened, dine-in isn’t suggested. Instead, you should take the delivery route if you can or opt for curbside pickups to avoid human contact. Ayala Malls DriveBuy can assist you with your cravings during this time; order at the nearest Ayala mall and get your orders in a designated pick-up point. Minimizing the risk is everyone’s goal, so go cashless if possible. Once you’ve received your food, transfer it from its packaging to your own plates.

I’m feeling lonely. Can I go out to hang with my friends?

It may be wiser to avoid any sort of interaction with anyone at the moment. But if you’ve already tried messaging or calling your friends, and it still doesn’t help, schedule a one-on-one meet-up in an open outdoor space while avoiding any physical touch. The logic here is air droplets move differently in areas with more ventilation, decreasing the risk of infection. Screens of our smartphones are usually overlooked, says an expert, so it’s important to also be wary of where you put it.