Summer is here but so is the Delta variant. Whether you want to get out on the open road, have a cheeky Tinder date or hoon a dart with mates, it’s important to stay safe. 

Re: spoke to Covid-19 modeller and University of Auckland professor, Shaun Hendy, about how rangatahi can protect themselves and others this summer. 

Should we be hooning darts with our mates?

Coming into close contact — that's the kind of thing we get into over summer. We’re around other people and sharing air.

Do it outdoors if you have to. Don’t do it in an enclosed space. If you’re breathing other people's air, then you’re potentially exposing either yourself or your friends to the virus.

If you’re sharing drinks and ciggies and so forth, you’re probably in close proximity.

This is a virus that’s spread by aerosol so that’s really through your breath like when you’re coughing, talking loudly and singing.

It’s really that close proximity that becomes the risk.

What’s the best way our rangatahi can stay safe over the summer?

The vaccine is still going to be our number one tool in fighting the virus over the summer period.

For young people, the risk of hospitalisation is lower but you’d be surprised how many people actually have immune deficiencies. So some of your friends, their siblings, their family members and even your own family members might actually be at risk even if you’re not.

The great thing about the vaccine is that you getting vaccinated and getting that immunity helps protect them as well.

How can rangatahi stay safe when meeting new people?

Young people have really active social lives, they’re going to meet up with people - it’s part of being young. It does pose more risks, especially with people you don’t know. 

When you’re on a date with someone, you’ll be in close contact, that’s probably a given. Make sure where you’re meeting is well-ventilated, maybe outdoors. 

Going to a restaurant or a bar that has a garden or outdoor tables is probably the way to do it so that there’s always a breeze and you’re not breathing each other's air as much.

We will still need our contact tracers to do their thing over the summer and that means keeping a good record of who you might have come into contact with. 

I recommend scanning in wherever there’s a QR code, keeping notes of who you might’ve been with, or using the Bluetooth on the covid app.

What steps should we take to protect ourselves when travelling domestically?

Road trips are a part of the great kiwi summer and they’re fun to do. 

Keep in mind that potentially you could test positive while you’re away from home, so you might have to self-isolate in that place. 

You might not be able to get home. That’s potentially going to happen to people over summer. So having a good plan B is important. 

If you’re going away somewhere, if you have a relative or someone you know where you’re going, check in with them just in case you get infected and need to isolate. 

Same rules will apply when you’re in your hometown as when you’re travelling. Scan in and keep good records of where you’ve been.

Be aware of some of the communities you might be visiting. 

If you’re going to a small beach town in a remote part of the country, they may not have the vaccine coverage that the big cities do. And it’s really important that you respect that. 

If communities are asking that you don’t go there, I think you should respect that. They need time to catch up with the vaccination program.

Anything else we should be mindful of?

Keep your mask in your pocket. Masks work really well. 

They’re not always the most comfortable thing to have on during summer, but when you’re around people or on public transport, having your mask handy helps keep yourself and others safe.

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