Fourth of July weekend is right around the corner. It's the first holiday the Lehigh Valley will experience while in the green phase of Governor Tom Wolf's reopening plan.

Bars and restaurants have reopened, salons are back in business, and gyms are once again welcoming customers. But despite relaxed restrictions, health experts say people still need to be cognizant of not throwing all caution to the wind.

Dr. Jeffrey Jahre with St. Luke's University Health Network said while being in the green phase comes with the state allowing events with less than 250 people, there's no doubt that your risk for contracting or spreading the virus increases with the more people you come into contact with.

As people contemplate how to celebrate the three-day weekend, Jahre said the safest thing people can do is to mingle only with people they live with. Jahre said it's vital that people socially distance themselves at least six feet and wear masks when coming into contact with people they do not live with.

Comparing indoor and outdoor interactions and activities, Jahre said being outdoors is considered safer.

"But it's certainly not zero. Again, if you can keep your group to the group you live with, the better. When you start adding more people, that risk goes up."

"We're not telling people to be a total hermit in this situation," Jahre said. "It's certainly fine to take advantage of being outdoors, take advantage of exercise."

If having people over, say for a cookout, over the weekend, Jahre said people should make certain they are socially distancing and wearing masks. He encouraged hosts to set up tables six feet apart, since people obviously can't wear a mask while chowing down on a burger or hot dog.

As for traditions like seeing fireworks or headed to a water recreation area, Jahre said those plans don't need to be cancelled.

However, he said people participating in those events or activities need to make sure they're at least six feet apart from people they don't live with. For example, some fireworks shows are allowing people to watch from their cars.

Masks would be useless in the water, but Jahre said they should be put on immediately after leaving the water, and people should still be mindful of not getting close to other people while swimming or boating. While the disease is not transmitted through water, Jahre said the biggest risk has to do with how close to and how long you are with other people.

"You also should not share personal items such as goggles, snorkels, or nose clips," Jahre said.

As always, those possibly coming into contact with high-risk populations need to be extra careful. People feeling ill or experiencing symptoms should not venture into public.

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