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  • Writer's pictureHeather Davis

Adapting to Distancing as a Way of Life, Even on a Surfboard

Updated: Jun 24, 2020

The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings.” - Kakuzo Okakura

America is having a hard time grappling with this invisible enemy of coronavirus.

As social behavior and the recent changes to public policy reflect, the country is clearly running out of patience with pandemic restrictions.

But none of that changes the science. No amount of demands that life return to pre-COVID conditions can change what we now know about viral load, “R naught,” or our unruly respiratory droplets.

At some point, life will settle into a new rhythm with likely little left unchanged. The new normal will involve permanent changes to our surroundings and behavior, whether we like it or not.

Keeping our distance

To save straining health care resources, the CDC recommends staying away from crowds, not gathering in groups and keeping a distance of 6 feet from others.

We just can’t be all on top of each other like we used to. Mosh pits, dog piles, even a teeming, spirited game of Twister maybe all headed for extinction.

Experts are suggesting we’re in for the long haul when it comes to keeping our distance.

Mayo Clinic COVID-19 expert, Dr. Gregory Poland sees widespread cultural change on the horizon including an ongoing need to practice physical distancing measures from here on out.

Not only do researchers predict the novel coronavirus will return every year, it seems a considerable percentage of adults in the U.S. currently have little intention of getting any of the many fast-developing vaccines.

Summer of COVID

During stay-at-home orders when beaches were closed, the Surfrider Foundation launched their #StayHomeShredLater campaign to encourage surfers to honor state and local public health orders.

With summer at our doorstep, it looks like ShredLater has arrived.

The current medical consensus is that being outdoors, in sunlight pose lower risk of virus transmission – both of which bode well for summer – and surfing.

Surfing is one of those activities that seems low risk of spread. Like tennis, surfing is an activity that easily accommodates physical distancing – just make space in the line-up.

The surfers in Social Distancing Surf show how to share a wave, but not the virus.

Still, what we know about the coronavirus is a moving target.

Scripps Institute of Oceanography scientists warns surfers that breezes and ocean spray can move coronavirus much farther than six feet.

As the science shakes out, it helps to see the upside of more personal space moving forward. Even with a vaccine, there is sure to be another stubborn virus that may at some point circle the globe.

Learning to perpetually keep our droplets to ourselves is a good move whether we’re indoors, at the beach or on a board.


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