IT is probably fair to say that many of us are relieved to see some semblance of normality return to our worlds after the last few months.
We have endured a lockdown and watched the world effectively grind to a halt, something that would have been beyond the bounds of our imaginations just a few short months ago.
For most of us, it was a huge adjustment but there are many positives we can draw from this unusual time where the world pressed pause.
We were separated from friends and extended family, but we had more opportunity than ever to connect with our immediate families. People found a new appreciation for what was on their doorsteps, discovered new routes in local forests or found a renewed interest in cycling or gardening.
A new dawn is upon us now though and while going into lockdown was a shock to the system for some it may also be a shock to the system to now emerge into this new version of the world.
Most of us welcomed the lifting of restrictions with perhaps a mixture of joy and trepidation — on one hand it’s absolutely fantastic to be allowed to explore within our own counties rather than just 5km or 20km (and maybe I’m biased but I am glad I’m stuck in such a large and vibrant county like Cork!).
However, on the other hand it is a new normal out there now. Queues for some shops are long and there are one-way systems in place where we once had freedom to move.
If you are planning on going on a day out with your family it’s worth being clever and strategic about how you approach it to make sure they are as stress free as possible.
There will be some level of apprehension amongst us all for the foreseeable future but it is also important to make sure we get back out there and try living again, in as safe a manner as we can.
If you are planning a day out the first thing to do is check the social media or website of the place you intend on visiting to get an idea of what to expect ahead of getting there.
Some attractions are putting in place booking systems, for example Fota Wildlife Park and Leahy’s Open Farm, so it is worth checking in case you arrive somewhere with a car full of excited children only to be turned away.
If you are heading to the beach check tide times and chose to go when the tide is out so that you can take of advantage of as much space as possible.
Check websites for local walking routes or Coillte Outdoors to see if there are any restrictions in place in popular forests and woods.
Some places, like Doneraile Park, have changed the location of car parking to ensure there is space to park a social distance from the car beside you.
It might also be worth investigating to see if the toilets are open in places because if they’re not it might prove to be an added hassle.
If you are nervous of crowds then be smart about when you chose to go out. It is probably not the best idea to hit for a beach on a hot Saturday afternoon and expect to enjoy the experience under the current circumstances. If you have the option of going midweek do and choosing to go out on days when the weather is perhaps a little overcast is a guaranteed way to ensure the place won’t be crowded.
Packing up your car the night before and being ready to head off first thing in the morning is another safe way of avoiding masses of people.
For the time being a lot of cafes, if they are open, are offering take away options which is lovely if you are after a treat. If you want to really minimise your interaction with people when you are out it is best to go prepared with things from home. Bring your own bottles of water and tea or coffee, pack a picnic and a blanket if you are heading out for a long day from home. Fast food outlets are currently open for takeaway but it might be difficult to juggle bringing children while you wait for food.
It possibly goes without saying at this stage, but you should bring hand sanitizer and use it regularly. A lot of places you visit (especially if you’re paying in) will have hand sanitisers throughout but many places don’t, like the forests and the beaches. It is also useful to bring wipes or, if you want to be a little more environmentally friendly, bring a container with damp reusable cloths in it to clean with.
And last but not least, it is so important that we have patience. This is a whole new world and businesses, people and children alike are all adjusting to a new set of social rules.
So be kind, play your part and we can all look forward to carefree days out again.
Now that restrictions have lifted and we can travel around the county, Eimear Hutchinson shares some advice on getting out and about with family, and some things to consider
Most of us welcomed the lifting of restrictions with perhaps a mixture of joy and trepidation — one one hand it’s absolutely fantastic to be allowed to explore... However, on the other hand it is a new normal out there now.