It seems as though we’ve just become more accustomed to social distancing and staying at home, but restrictions to prevent infection from the novel coronavirus will ease. The federal government anticipates nearly complete reopening of Australia in July.

Nearly 1 million Australians are expected to go back to work through the government’s three phase plan. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that states may choose their own time frames for reopening restaurants, gyms, and cinemas, as well as allowing interstate travel.

Careful planning and understanding of risks will go a long way toward getting out and about as restrictions ease. We’ve put together a list of things that you may be eager to do, along with ways to accomplish them safely.

What are the phased activities in NSW?

The Covid-19 landscape is very fluid and changing rapidly, especially as there are predictions of a second wave of infections, however, as of 15 May, everyone in NSW was allowed to have public gatherings of up to 10 people. Food and drink establishments were permitted to reopen, but seat no more than 10 people at a time and recently this has increased to 50.

  • Visiting: Up to 5 people may visit another household at a time
  • Weddings: Up to 10 guests plus those conducting the service, photographers and videographers, and the couple being married.
  • Religious gatherings can have up to 10 worshippers at a time.
  • Indoor funerals may have up to 20 mourners, and outdoor ceremonies may have 30 mourners.
  • Playgrounds and outdoor exercise equipment may be used “with caution.”
  • Outdoor pools may open with restrictions.

The next phase allowed double the number of visitors and attendees at weddings, funerals, and religious gatherings. Now, gatherings of up to 100 people are allowed, and interstate travel is a possibility in many cases.

Each phase is being reviewed on a daily basis in case of a second wave of infections as people start to venture out into more crowded spaces.

Safe haircuts and nail services

In May, NSW’s Health Minister Brad Hazzard announced that nail bars, beauty salons, and tanning businesses could reopen June 1. After reopening, beauty businesses continued to work hard to stick to their COVID-safe plans for operation.

So, what are the COVID-safe plans for getting your nails done?

First, all hair salons must obey the “4 square metre rule.” Nail salons, along with tanning salons and spas, also need to adhere to this rule. They must also allow 4 square metres of space for every person allowed on the premises, whether indoor or outdoor. You can get your hair cut safely. Everyone going to the hairdresser or barber continues to be advised to go alone, or with at most, one other person.

If you can find a stylist who is able to visit your home, you may be less at-risk. NSW is encouraging home-based services, using proper precautions. 365 Care can help to connect you to in-home services.

When should we wear masks?

NSW’s official guidance for wearing masks pertains primarily to people with coronavirus infection who are staying at home. They must wear a mask whenever they are in the same room with another person. If you are receiving disability care, your care provider will be aware of these safety requirements.

You will have likely seen video of people in Asia wearing masks wherever they go and heard news reports of various cities in the States which are requiring everyone to wear masks. It’s only right to wonder what masks accomplish and under which circumstances they should be worn or not worn.

The coronavirus (and other viruses) are able to be breathed out during normal respiration. It doesn’t require coughs or sneezes to spread. This is the reason that masks are encouraged in the nations which are requiring or promoting voluntary mask-wearing.

Because older adults and individuals with disabilities are more at-risk from the virus that causes COVID-19 than others, they may wish to wear masks when they go out. If going for a haircut, they may wish to ask their barber or stylist to wear a mask as well.

Bottom line about masks and virus in the air: a virus can’t move on its own. But it is extremely small and lightweight, so it can easily be carried more than a metre away from an infected person who is merely breathing or talking. If you’re wearing a cloth face covering and a virus lands on it, chances are, virus particles will not shoot forcefully through the cloth.

Be aware, however, that you can rub or brush virus particles onto your face while you’re taking a mask off or adjusting it. This is one reason why hand washing is so important. This is also the reason for the advice that you shouldn’t touch your face if you can avoid it. Bits of virus can easily stick on your fingers and enter your body when you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.

Preventing infection and using good hygiene

There’s been a lot of news about how people can catch the coronavirus. Viruses and other infectious germs can come to rest on many surfaces. You may have heard that the virus can live for up to three days on a metal surface. While this is true, several studies have shown that it’s difficult to catch the virus simply by touching a surface. The most likely and common way people are catching coronavirus is person-to-person. This is the reason for keeping two arms’ length (1.5 metres) of distance between you and others — especially strangers.

If you do venture out as restrictions ease, one of the best things you can do to protect yourself is to frequently wash your hands well with soap and hot water. Soap, particularly dish soap, doesn’t just wash the virus away, it helps to break down the virus’ fatty coating.

Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth until you know you’ve given your hands a good washing and have removed the clothes you’ve worn out and put them in the laundry. Home supports can help with laundering and with keeping surfaces clean and sanitized at home. You needn’t purchase expensive cleaning supplies. Alcohol-based cleansers and bleach solutions will kill coronavirus and other germs.

During this time, make sure you’re laundering your clothing, towels and linens with hot water. Yes, some things may shrink or fade, but the virus won’t survive a trip through the washer at hot temperatures.

Ask disability support providers and other caregivers to take special care with sanitizing surfaces in your home and check to ensure they’re washing their hands frequently and effectively with soap and hot water. If you have a sponge at the sink, it can’t hurt to throw it away and replace it with a new sponge. Failing that, you can sanitize the sponge by microwaving it for 1 minute. Many studies have shown that kitchen sponges

harbour more germs, including bacteria and viruses, than nearly any other household item.

Don’t be fearful while going out

It might be advisable to take it slowly when getting out as NSW moves beyond the strict COVID-19 regulations. The limits on the number of people who can gather in one place for any reason, and the benefits of masks to protect others from infection, are based on what scientists have learned about how the virus spreads. The most common way that people are catching coronavirus is through close contact.

None of us should fear seeing others while on a walk outside. By the same token, we shouldn’t seek to gather in large groups and embrace total strangers.

If you do feel ill, the best advice remains as it has been throughout the crisis: just stay home. You’ll help yourself and others whether you’ve come down with the common cold or – let us hope not – coronavirus.

As to dining out, although restaurants, pubs, and cafes are open, you may want to wait a bit. You may even want to consider the cinema or theatre if they offer COVID-safe seating. In any case, wash your hands thoroughly before and after any contact outside your home and follow all the other good hygiene practices.

365 Care can help you to get out and about safely and can also help with errands and shopping. If you need care just a few hours a week, or daily care, 365 Care is here for you. We understand your concerns about staying safe, although life is beginning to return to normal.

Contact 365 Care to learn how their aged and disability care services can help you.

Further reading:
https://nationalseniors.com.au/news/latest/new-social-and-trading-restrictions-you-need-to-know
https://www.agedcareguide.com.au/talking-aged-care/ as-covid-19-restrictions-ease-national-seniors-recommend-staying-vigilant
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-24/nsw-one-new-covid-case-as-beauty-salons-reopen/12280730
https://www.nsw.qov.au/covid-19/what-you-can-and-cant-do-under-rules
https://www.nsw.gov .au/ covid-19/what-you-can-and-cant-do-under-rules/four-sguare-metre-rule
https://www.health.nsw.gov .au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/ advice-for-confirmed.aspx