Covid-19 is still incredibly dangerous, and social distancing needs to be taken very seriously – but for many, racism is also a matter of life and death.
We are at a point where it has become vital to speak out – loudly and persistently – against police brutality and racial injustice. And attending protests can be an effective way to make your voice heard and ultimately make a difference.
But we are still in the midst of a deadly global pandemic, and the official government advice is to avoid crowded public spaces, limit unavoidable travel, and keep your distance from other people.
So, if you do feel the need to go to a Black Lives Matter protest – can it be done safely?
There will always be risk if you chose not to follow the official guidance, but Dr Henrique Pacheco, GP and medical advisor at Doctors 4 U has explained how you can minimise your risk and keep yourself as safe as possible while protesting.
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Asses your own risk level
Before you head outside to join in with the protest, Dr Henrique wants you to ask yourself – are you high-risk? Are you putting yourself and others in danger of becoming ill? Do you have symptoms? How can you ensure that you are staying vigilant outside?
‘If you are high-risk then I would advise not joining in with the protests, this is a sure-fire way to increase chances of infection and could potentially be fatal,’ he tells Metro.co.uk.
‘If you want to help there are plenty of resources and links to funding pages where you can donate to a BLM charity, or you could support those who are protesting by offering up bottles of water of food from the side-lines to ensure that you aren’t getting too close to anyone and provided you wear gloves and a mask.’
Stay home if you are high-risk or unwell
If you are in one of the high-risk categories, or if you are displaying coronavirus symptoms – you should stay at home.
It could be incredibly dangerous for yourself and for people around you chose to attend crowded protests where it would be impossible to social distance.
If you have symptoms
If you are experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 then you should stay at home.
‘If you do have to go outside, stay away from highly populated areas where the virus could potentially transmit across to others and increase chances of second wave,’ Dr Henrique adds.
Wear a mask at all times
If you do not have symptoms and are not high risk, Dr Henrique says you will be able to join in with the protests as long as you comply with safety measures as much as possible.
‘Wear a face mask at all times, if you are able to get yourself a properly fitted mask with a filter that is tight the face this is ideal,’ he says.
‘If not, a normal material mask or a scarf tied around the face should work.
‘Ensure the mask or scarf fits snug around your face, you will be tempted to pull It down to join in with chants and shouting however keep the mask on at all times if you can.’
Don’t forget – no mask ever eliminates your risk of catching or spreading Covid-19, but experts believe it can reduce your risk.
Don’t forget to have hand sanitiser with you at the protests to ensure that you can keep your hands as clean as possible at all times.
‘Chances are you will be rubbing up close to others and could touch them, if you then bring your hands to your face virus particles could potentially enter your respiratory system through a facial orifice,’ says Dr Henrique.
‘I would also advise wearing gloves to keep hands free from any possible transmission.’
He adds that you should also drink water while protesting.
‘Keep yourself hydrated and drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep liquids up and to support the immune system.’
Avoid the densest crowds
‘When you are outside, try to social distance as much as possible,’ says Dr Henrique.
‘This may be harder if you are right in the midst’s of protests, so if you can stick to the outer areas and side-lines to ensure that you are not close to anyone.
‘If you can, participate from your apartment or car window.’
He adds that you should avoid sharing food, drinks or signs with anyone else unless it’s an absolute emergency.
‘Remember to cough or sneeze into your elbow. Talking, shouting or yelling loudly will most likely mean that more respiratory droplets will be expelled from people’s mouths, so try to put a good distance between you and anyone who is chanting, especially if they are unmasked.
‘People will most likely forget that we are still very much in the midst of a pandemic whilst protesting however it’s imperative that we remain vigilant and keep in mind at all times to stay safe and aware that Covid-19 is still out there.’
Remember, if you’re high-risk or worried about spreading the disease to family members – stay at home. Find alternative ways to speak up and support the cause.
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