What Are The Rules Of Jogging During A Pandemic?

Parks are blessedly still open as part of New York City’s extended stay-at-home order, provided that park-goers enjoy them at a safe distance from one another. That’s easier said than done, especially as the weather warms up, not to mention the fact that with gyms closed, even more New Yorkers are jogging outside. 

Running outside during a pandemic has its challenges, and it’s not clear what the rules are. Do you wear a mask? Is it hard to breathe? What happens if you accidentally get too close to someone else? Is the jogger just ahead of you leaving behind a stream of coronavirus particles? We’ve compiled some tips to help you navigate the streets, whether you’re jogging, walking, sprinting or calmly sauntering.

Wear A Mask, Even If You’re Running

It would be nice if New York City were spacious enough that you could run on an empty trail whenever you felt like it. Unfortunately, that’s generally not the case, and in keeping with Governor Cuomo’s directive that people wear masks in situations where they might not be able to social-distance properly, you should wear a mask when you run outside. 

A runners’ buff might do if it’s chilly enough, or you can tie a bandana around your face, which may be easier to breathe through. In theory, you can go maskless if there’s no one around, but it’s best to keep the mask on the whole time, since you never know when people will suddenly pop up around the bend.

Run At Off-Hours

If you have a flexible schedule, try to run during standard work hours to avoid crowding parks and sidewalks. If you don’t have a flexible schedule, run early in the morning or at lunchtime, if possible. And though it’s tempting to run on a weekend day, you’re far more likely to struggle to social-distance then; so, again, spring for the early morning or right before sunset to give pedestrians more space.

Pay Attention

One of the nice things about running in a park or on a long stretch of carless road is that you can space out. Unfortunately, if you want to social-distance properly, you’re going to have to be more mindful. Pandemic runs require zigzagging around people and keeping an eye out for open space.

You Probably Won’t Get COVID-19 From A Passing Jogger

Even if you have a close encounter with a maskless runner, you will probably be fine. According to a Columbia University virologist, despite some evidence that COVID-19 can spread through aerosol droplets, the virus is much less likely to transmit outdoors among sunlight, wind and, most importantly, open space.

You should still take normal precautions when you go outside, like wearing a mask, going for walks at off-hours and doing your best to keep a six-foot distance between you and everybody else. But if a jogger or two whizzes right by, there’s no need to freak out.

photo: iStock