Summer is officially here, but we’re still in the middle of a pandemic. Many beaches are closed because of COVID-19, but some have opened up. At those beaches, there are new rules to regard and follow. Being outside is great for mental and physical health, but it’s also important to keep COVID-19 in mind and stay safe. At the beach, it’s easy to forget about what’s happening in the world, especially if alcohol is involved. Here are some ways you can protect yourself.

1. Is it even safe to go to the beach?
Yes, as long as people are social distancing. Stay away from crowds, and stay six feet away from people who aren’t in your immediate household, even when you’re in the water. Fortunately, the virus is diluted outdoors where there’s a lot of circulation. But it’s still extremely important to be cautious.

2. Are all beach guidelines the same?
No. Guidelines may differ widely. For instance, in New York City, beaches are open at 50% capacity and social distancing is mandated. In Los Angeles, beaches have opened for activities (such as surfing, jogging, and swimming), but not for sunbathing. Research the area you live and get familiar with the rules.

3. Stay away from crowds.
If you find that parking at the beach is an issue, it might be in your best interest to turn around and go home or find another beach. If you can’t safely social distance while you’re there, you’re putting yourself and everybody else at risk.

4. Keep a mask on hand, and bring hand sanitizer.
It’s not usually necessary to wear a mask outdoors, when people aren’t nearby. But it’s important to have a mask on hand, in case a crowd appears or others get too close for comfort. It’s also important to have hand sanitizer with you, especially if you’ll be using public bathrooms or rental equipment.