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Even though it might take a while before the world returns to the pre-pandemic normal, slowly but surely, things are opening up. With the vaccine rollout well underway, the summer of 2021 is shaping up to be infinitely better than the last. With restaurants and bars open, it’s time to meet up with old friends you haven’t seen in person since 2020. Interstate travel means you can take a cross country road trip and get out of the square mile you’ve spent the last year of your life in. And while it doesn’t seem like Coachella is going to be back this year, several smaller festivals have announced plans to hold in-person events this year. While these will be subject to capacity limits and attendees will likely have to be vaccinated, it’s infinitely better than pretending to travel by changing your Zoom background to a picture of a beach or a concert!

Despite all this good news, it’s important to remember that COVID-19 is still around. You can still get COVID-19 even though you’ve been vaccinated, although the symptoms will be less severe and you’re much less likely to transmit it to another person. Don’t throw caution entirely to the winds just yet — here are a few tips for you to keep in mind that will let you have a blast this summer while keeping you safe from the pandemic!

Get vaccinated. This is the easiest and safest way for you to protect yourself from COVID-19. Nearly all deaths from COVID-19 now are unvaccinated people. CDC guidelines also allow vaccinated people more freedom than unvaccinated people — for example, if you’re vaccinated you don’t always need to wear a mask. Everyone aged 12 and above is now eligible for a vaccine, so if you haven’t already gotten your shot, make that your first priority before your summer starts. To be on the safe side, wait at least 2 weeks after your second dose (or only dose, if you’re taking a single-dose vaccine) before you let your hair down.

Stay outdoors. Enjoying the sand, sea, and sunshine isn’t only the popular choice, it’s the safer choice! Studies have shown that the transmissibility of COVID-19 decreases dramatically when you’re outdoors, as indoor spaces like bars and theatres have poorer ventilation and a higher density of people.

Limit your group sizes. Interacting with more people increases your risk of catching COVID-19. Pick a few close friends and try to stay in the same group throughout your summer plans. Your group shouldn’t be too big — try to limit it to 5 or 6 people at the most. Try to maintain at least a 6 foot distance from people outside your group.

Wear a mask. While the CDC has relaxed its mask wearing requirements, it’s important to note masks are still required on US public transport such as trains, buses, and flights. Even though you may no longer need to wear a mask in all situations if you’ve been vaccinated, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. You can always take off the mask to get that perfect summer vacation shot for the gram!

Drink responsibly. What, did you think these were all going to be about COVID-19? Even though it can be tempting to really let loose after what feels like the longest year of our lives, be careful not to overdo it, especially when you’re in a new or unfamiliar area. Drinking too much has all kinds of negative side-effects like liver damage, heart disease and stroke. Of course we’re all allowed a wild night now and then, so if you find yourself waking up with a hangover there’s plenty of cheap ways to go back to feeling like new which will leave you with plenty of money for the rest of your summer plans. Stock up on some common cures for hangovers like water, coffee and carbs. And if you still feel like throwing up, you can head to the drugstore to pick up some ibuprofen, vitamin B and zinc. You can also swing by a cbd oil sale to get some CBD, which has proven effective in reducing nausea.

Know where you’re going. Different states, cities, and even counties are dealing with different levels of COVID-19 and have put in place different regulations and rules to deal with the pandemic. Read up on what you can and can’t do in your intended destination before reaching, as you don’t want to get into trouble with the authorities for breaking COVID-19 regulations, even unintentionally.

After a whole year of being cooped up inside, we’re all ready to put the pandemic behind us. If you exercise the necessary precautions, monitor your health carefully, and listen to the authorities, there’s no reason why this summer can’t be the best summer of your life!