SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- It's Memorial Day weekend and people around western Mass. are looking to break their cabin fever and venture outside, but many are wondering how they can enjoy the weekend while being safe from COVID-19.

A local health expert told Western Mass News that it's still very important to continue following state protocols and to avoid high traffic areas.

"We’re gonna try to get a little hiking in somewhere in the Berkshires," said Lexington resident Anthony Wright.

"We’re going to have a backyard barbecue. We’ve got the pool ready. The younger grandchildren will probably go to it. We will not and it will just be the same 10 people that we’ve been quarantined with during this time," said Monson resident Pamela McDonald.

People in western Mass. are gearing up for Memorial Day weekend - the unofficial start of summer - and the holiday on Monday also marking phase 1 part 2 of reopening.

But with more people trying to return to normal activities - a local health expert said its important to be smart.

"You’re going to get coronavirus from another human being so staying away from other people. Wear your mask if you can’t stay more than 6 feet away and then be cautious of high traffic areas," said UMass Amherst's microbiology professor Dr. Erika Hamilton.

Hamilton told Western Mass News - over the phone - if you plan to go hiking...

"Try and find a trail that isn’t heavily used. Maybe go at an off time so instead of going at the height of the day maybe go earlier in the morning or later in the evening when there are fewer people," Hamilton explained.

She said for those planning barbecues...

"Wearing a mask is not necessarily enough. You can’t wear a mask and then have everybody sit next to each other and expect everyone to be safe that way. So you still need to do the social distancing," Hamilton said.

Hamilton told us for other people looking to take part in water activities or picnicking in parks - be alert to what could be hot spots of people.

"Be careful about spaces where there are a lot of people in public bathrooms and door handles entryways into certain places where folks may be crammed in tight space with each other. Remember to have hand sanitizer with you and a mask with you," Hamilton explained.

Hamilton also said it's also important to remember the guidelines limiting gatherings to 10 people that are still in place.

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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