— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.
As summer slowly winds down, we may start to shift our focus to fall, whether it's gearing up for school or counting down the days until cooler temperatures replace the unpleasant heat waves. But it's not time to break out the hoodies and pumpkin spice just yet, we've got one last hurrah before summer's over: Labor Day weekend.
While many of us are looking forward to a long weekend filled with family and friends or a much-needed vacation, the highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19 has complicated a lot of late-summer plans. With cases, hospitalizations and deaths on the rise, you may be considering dialing back your Labor Day weekend plans.
Even making minor changes to your plans can help protect you and those around you, as well as ease your anxiety about the developing situation. Whether you're meeting up with friends and family locally or have upcoming travel plans, here's what you can do to take extra precautions and play it a little safer.
Get expert shopping advice delivered to your phone. Sign up for text message alerts from the deal-hunting nerds at Reviewed.
Stay safe while traveling
Check state and local guidelines before traveling
Before making plans to travel across state lines, double-check any travel restrictions or visitor guidelines of your destination. According to the CDC, state, local or territorial governments may have quarantine requirements or require a negative test. This is especially true for international travel—be sure you're aware of any travel, mask-wearing, testing or quarantine guidelines that may be different from those of the United States. If you're flying, the CDC also recommends checking any additional guidance or requirements from your airline.
Bring plenty of masks
There's a lot of uncertainty surrounding the current delta variant. With COVID-19 cases rising among the majority of the country, the CDC now recommends universal masking in areas of high transmission, regardless of vaccination status. With these updated recommendations, many businesses and establishments are now recommending or requiring masks again. In addition, TSA will continue to require masks through January 2022 for public transportation like airplanes, trains, and buses (including the stations, too).
If you're heading out for a weekend of travel, be sure to back a mask and plenty of back-ups. Once masks get dirty, or "wet" from a long period of use, they become less effective in their protection power. For a protective reusable mask that's still lightweight and breathable to wear for hours, the Athleta Everyday Non-Medical Face Mask is the best face mask we've ever tested at Reviewed. The triple-layer construction makes for a protective barrier and the adjustable earloops and wire nose clip make for the perfect fit on your face.
Pack hand sanitizer or disinfecting wipes
We now know that the risk of becoming infected through contact with surfaces contaminated with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is generally low—however, it's not a bad idea to keep disinfecting products like wipes and hand sanitizer on hand for your travels.
You can use disinfecting wipes when traveling by airplane or train, using them to wipe down your seat and tray table before use. In addition, hand sanitizer is great for when you're on the go and soap and water isn't available to wash your hands. Just make sure the sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol to ensure that it's effectively killing germs.
Stay safe when celebrating
Spend time outdoors rather than indoors
With the delta variant of COVID-19 quickly spreading across the country, many Americans may be looking to adjust their Labor Day weekend plans for a safer alternative. Especially if you or someone you know is not vaccinated, isn't eligible for the vaccine yet (i.e. kids under 12) or are immunocompromised, there are still plenty of ways to celebrate Labor Day weekend with lower-risk activities.
The CDC continues to say that outdoor gatherings are the safer option when it comes to spending time with folks outside of your household. Plus, if the weather's nice, you may be looking to soak up the last bits of summer outdoors. If you can't remain at least six feet apart from others while outdoors, the CDC encourages mask-wearing for extra protection.
Bring a mask with you wherever you go
As we mentioned early, you may need to be mindful of local and state guidelines—including mask mandates—when traveling. Mask mandates or recommendations vary across the country and even business to business. In accordance with the CDC's recommendations for universal masking indoors, it's best to come prepared with a mask or two wherever you go over the weekend, especially in areas with high transmission rates.
Bring your vaccine card if you're vaccinated
Cities like New York City and New Orleans have started requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination for indoor venues like restaurants and gyms. If you're traveling to an area that requires this proof, don't forget to pack your card with you. Unfortunately, it's not the most wallet-friendly as it's slightly larger than the average credit card.
Thankfully, you can keep your COVID-19 vaccination card handy right on your smartphone by taking a photo of it or scanning it. If you need to show physical proof, there are plenty of convenient (and stylish) carrying cases you can get to protect your COVID-19 vaccination card.
Stay home if you feel sick
While messaging about COVID-19 mitigation continues to shift as the pandemic quickly evolves, one message has remained constant—if you're feeling sick, stay home. Earlier on in the pandemic, experts warned of specific symptoms like a cough or shortness of breath. Now, with more knowledge of the virus and the introduction of the highly contagious delta variant, symptoms can look and feel just like the flu or even the common cold, such as a fever, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache or sore throat, among many other symptoms. If you're not feeling well, stay home and consider getting a COVID-19 test.
Need help finding products? Sign up for our weekly newsletter. It’s free and you can unsubscribe at any time.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
This article originally appeared on Reviewed: Labor Day 2021: What you need to travel safely amid coronavirus delta variant spread