Social distancing rules are expected to continue in the coming months as vaccine rollout remains slow and Covid-19 continues to spread. Indoor meals are always not recommended, and gathering at someone’s house is not safe. Some Americans look to outdoor gatherings to maintain a sense of normalcy. But moving the party outside in the middle of winter comes with its own challenges, including cold temperatures and unexpected weather conditions – and outdoor tent sales are booming.
“There has been a huge increase in outdoor furniture as people are having more fun outdoors. People buy party tents and awnings. We’ve even seen a trend for people to carry a beach chair in the back of their car in case they meet friends outside, ”said Jen Carter, director of corporate marketing at ShelterLogic, a company outdoor tent and canopy. “People stay at home and improve their spaces.”
How to find the best outdoor tents
Although prices vary, you usually get what you pay for when it comes to outdoor furniture, said Jess Flanders, vice president of marketing at Lloyd Flanders, an outdoor furniture retailer.
“Outdoor furniture is made from a wide variety of materials that vary in quality and durability considerably,” she explained. “It’s worth the investment once and enjoying durable parts that will stand up to the elements for years to come.”
Best awning tents and outdoor tents
If you are looking for an enclosure for your outdoor space, Philip Junglas, MD, internal medicine doctor at the Cleveland Clinic, recommended that you purchase outdoor tents or choose an enclosed tent that is designed to allow air circulation. . For example, consider outdoor tents with removable doors or shutters. Avoid closed tents, such as yurts, which stifle the flow of air.
“It’s only a matter of time before there is enough virus in the air to infect everyone inside,” noted Junglas.
“The key is air circulation,” said Mitchell Grayson, MD, chairman of the Medical Scientific Council of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. “Many yurts are just smaller, enclosed spaces that are outside. A tent, if it allows air circulation, would be much better – but avoid four-walled ones.
Unless you’re looking to make a definite change to your outdoor space, buyers should look for products that are easy to set up and take down, Carter said. Tents should fully cover where you plan to congregate (in case of rain or snow) and at the same time allow social distancing. If you live in hot or humid climates, consider a tent with a mosquito net, which keeps bugs out, while still allowing free air circulation.
ABCCANOPY Pop-Up tent with side walls
This awning tent covers up to 100 square feet and is available in multiple sizes and colors, depending on your space requirements and aesthetic preferences. This model also has three sidewalls and a door wall, but users can unzip the doors or remove the enclosure completely to increase airflow into the space. The tent fabric is waterproof and comes with ropes and stakes for added stability against wind and other weather elements.
Bayfield retractable steel gazebo
This affordable pop-up gazebo comes in four colors – brown, gray, beige, and black – and is water resistant. It covers up to 84 square feet. It has a durable steel frame and comes with transparent mesh panels to keep out mosquitoes and other insects. This model weighs only 35 pounds and comes with a bag for easy storage.
Eurmax retractable awning tent
This pop-up tent has four tarpaulin walls which can be easily removed to increase airflow. It is designed for easy assembly and disassembly without any tools. The tent comes with a wheeled bag for storage and four sandbags to hold the structure down. Buyers can choose from 17 colors and five sizes in total in square feet: 64, 96, 100, 150, and 200. Users can also adjust the height of the tent up to 11 feet. The tent fabric is fire retardant and is sealed to prevent water from entering.
Verona ShelterLogic hardtop gazebo
This outer tent is fully open, allowing good air circulation. It is made with weather resistant sheets and a nylon mosquito net to keep insects out. The nets can be easily clipped to the frame to open up the space. Buyers can choose from three sizes – 100, 120, and 140 square feet – depending on how many people they plan to host. All tents are nine feet high.
Suntime Fully Enclosed Canopy Retractable Gazebo
This sleek retractable gazebo comes with adjustable screens for extra insulation (and to keep bugs out) and an aluminum frame for added stability. It is weather resistant between less than a degree and 158 degrees Fahrenheit and weighs 40 pounds. It can shade up to 100 square feet and comes with a bag for easy storage.
Are outdoor gatherings safe?
Gather outdoors is safer than to congregate inside, says Grayson. There is usually sufficient airflow, which reduces the risk of transmission, he explained – regardless, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises you to maintain social distancing rules and , of course, to keep your face mask.
When you are indoors, the air is often recirculated and not often refreshed, which means airborne droplets carrying the virus can stay in the air longer. A December 2020 study from the University of California estimates that the chances of transmission of the virus indoors through the air are nearly 19 times greater than outdoors. But health experts emphasize: gathering outside does not make you immune to Covid capture. The virus can still spread through the air, depending on how far you are from an infected person.
How to stay safe outdoors
While an outdoor gathering is better than an indoor gathering, they are certainly not as safe as not to gather at all. Experts have presented some safety tips for anyone organizing or participating in an outdoor gathering:
Keep your distance. The CDC recommends staying at least six feet away from those who are not in your immediate household – and limiting your time with others, if possible.
Lower your voice. It’s not just about avoiding annoying neighbors. Shouting or singing can increase the chances of releasing droplets and airborne particles, Grayson explained.
Wear your face mask. While you may need to remove your mask to eat and drink, Grayson advised you to step aside even further while eating and drinking, and put your mask back on as soon as you’re done.
Wash your hands frequently. While you’re less likely to touch an infectious surface during an outdoor gathering, there are still handles, glasses, plates and other items that many have touched, noted Junglas.
Avoid touching common objects altogether. Bring your own drinks, cooking utensils or plates. If you share items, wash your hands immediately afterwards and avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
Watch your alcohol intake. Covid precautions can fly out the window once you start drinking. Junglas encourages adults to be responsible for how much they drink at any outdoor gathering – someone under the influence may be more likely to engage in risky behavior (such as removing their mask or going indoors) or have an accident like tripping and falling (especially dangerous if there are heat lamps nearby).
Stick to your “bubble”. These autonomous networks of friends or family who agree to follow the same Covid rules can limit your exposure to the virus.
Stick to your standards. “No one really wants to wear a mask, but be bold,” Junglas said. “It’s okay to be the only one wearing one, because it shows you know how masks reduce the spread.”
While these best practices aren’t guaranteed to keep you from getting sick, they can significantly reduce your risk, Junglas said. And if you’re outside in cold weather, don’t forget to wear a coat.
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