During the COVID-19 pandemic, many have struggled to find human connection or maintain some semblance of human contact. With Valentine’s Day coming up on Sunday, it is important to consider the safety of the many different activities that are currently available. Some activities are riskier than others and this should be considered just as much as how romantic or fun the time out may be. Below are some recommended and discouraged activities for winter or Valentine’s Day fun.
Ice skating: Ice skating is a common and fun winter activity for both novices and experienced skaters, and many rinks are still offering public skating hours and lessons. According to TripSavvy, there are six ice rinks in the Raleigh-Durham area. While many of these are inside rinks, it is easy to stay socially distanced with one’s partner as long as the rink isn’t crowded. As long as everyone is wearing a mask, this makes for a fun, albeit moderately risky date.
Going to the gym: Prior to Governor Cooper’s newest mask mandate, patrons were not required to wear a mask when intensely working out. However, masks are now required at all times within a gym and this has lessened the riskiness of working out inside. This activity is a moderate risk activity because of mask-wearing and is a good way to help both mental and physical health. It should be noted that physical distancing and appropriate sanitization practices should still be followed. Due to this activity being inside and the new year bringing an influx of patrons, this activity is moderately risky, compared to being low risk.
Walking around campus: While this feels like an everyday activity, it is a great way to stay safe and social. The scenic Reedy Creek Trail surrounds Meredith and eventually leads to the North Carolina Museum of Art. Meredith has also provided a map of recorded exercise loops around campus, most commonly being referred to as the “Meredith Mile.” To make this adventure seem more romantic or enjoyable, take a walk at sunrise or sunset for some beautiful sky views. Given that this activity is outside and because of Meredith's requirements for masks on campus and the potential for social distancing, this activity is low risk.
Eating out: While this is a traditional Valentine’s Day activity, it does come with some risks. Researching a restaurant beforehand and noting what anti-spread measures are being taken is a good way to measure risk. With it being cold outside, indoor dining tends to be more appealing. However, many restaurants have created heated outdoor dining spaces or installed plexiglass dividers to prevent the spread of COVID-19. An alternative to this might be ordering take-out from a local restaurant and eating at home. Doing this also creates the option for creating a personalized setting with flowers, music or lighting in one’s own home. The take-out option is a low risk activity that is sure to add variety to any dinner. Eating at a restaurant has a variable level of risk: without anti-spread measures it is high risk, but with the appropriate measures this is a more moderately risky activity.
Drive-in movie: While going to a traditional movie theater would be a high-risk activity during the pandemic, drive-in movies are able to be enjoyed in the comfort of one’s own car. While there are not many operating drive-in movie theaters in NC, Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre in Hillsborough is about an hour away and the retro, low-risk experience may be worth the extra driving.
At-home spa day: Relaxing is an important part of any college student’s life, no matter how infrequently it may happen. While spas and massages have a certain allure to them, especially in the winter months and around holidays, there is a much safer way to replicate this otherwise high-risk experience. It is easy to customize an at-home spa day using cheap and accessible tools. Etsy is a great place to find local resources. The staples to a nice spa day are a smooth and pleasant smelling massage oil, a massage roller, lavender epsom bath salts and calming music. Together this makes for a low risk, intimate activity.
“Stay-cation”: COVID-19 has redefined what a “stay-cation” is and how it is done. However, many nearby hotels are offering deal packages for locals. While patrons must be at least 21 to reserve a room in most places, it is a great option for those of age. Unscripted, a retro-chic hotel in Durham, has multiple deals currently happening. The “Locals-Only” package comes with complimentary parking, a shop-Durham card that activates deals at multiple local businesses and great views over Durham’s skyline. The “Bull-City Love” deal comes with sparkling wine, chocolate covered strawberries and rose petals. Those are just two of their current promotions. This same hotel is the site of multiple lit igloos that are available to be reserved by hotel guests and the general public. Taking a “stay-cation” is a low risk activity due to the lack of human contact and updated cleaning policies implemented in many hotels.
By Elinor Shelp-Peck, Co-Editor in Chief