Most of us may think that getting infected with COVID-19 is a binary situation–that any activity you do outside your home will lead to infection, and you simply have to wait for symptoms to manifest while counting down from fourteen days. In reality, some activities are riskier than others–and if we simply be vigilant and follow health protocols, we minimize infection risk and still get to go back to some semblance of normal.
According to a report in The Atlantic, infectious-disease expert Julia Marcus said that we definitely have to forgo some routines and activities until COVID-19 in under control, but not everything is a blatant invitation for the virus.
Dr. Susan Hassig of Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans told The Business Insider that some activities are definitely riskier than others, but that wearing a mask and washing hands frequently along with vigilance can greatly reduce the risk of coronavirus infection.
Here is a list of the usual activities we miss during Circuit Breaker, from high to low risk:
Family or friendly gathering
Being around your friends and family (who don’t live with you) gives you a false sense of security and may make you let your guard down. Being inside someone else’s home or your own may make you forgo a mask and not be a diligent about washing your hands. You’re also essentially exposed to everyone the other members of the gathering are in contact with regularly.
Going to bars
There’s a reason the clubs and bars closed first–their business model encourages people to pack themselves into tight spaces and come into contact with strangers. Alcohol also impairs your judgment and may make you forget about good hygiene and even protecting yourself from any infection.
All you have to do to remember why bars are risky if you don’t want to get infected is to look how South Korea was graced with an unfortunate super spreader event from a 29-year-old party-goer. They had to shut down bars and drinking establishments on May 9 just as lockdown measures eased.
Taking communion, holding hands, singing, sitting next to each other, and staying inside an enclosed air-conditioned space for hours ramps up the infection risk to unacceptable level.
Churches would have to limit the number of people during service, use masks, refrain from giving communion, and practice social distancing during services if ever any sort of gathering would be allowed again while COVID-19 is still out there.
Attending movies and sporting events
The highest risk of infection comes with entering and exiting the venues for these activities. Even if some form of social distancing can be implemented, the enclosed space is the perfect area for viral transmission.
Exercising at the gym or going to a spa
The only way that going to the gym can be safe enough from high risk of infection is if the customers and trainers all wear masks and the whole place and all the equipment is sanitized after every use.
According to Marcus, people eating in an enclosed area that has air-conditioning is one of the riskiest regular activities you can do. The air in an enclosed space as well as the heavy foot traffic throughout the day is the perfect stage for an infection.
Restaurants can lessen this by requiring everyone who isn’t eating to wear a mask, and to provide disposable utensils and menus. Enclosed restaurants must also allow more airflow. Outdoor dining is less riskier than indoor setups.
Getting a haircut or salon visit
Hair salons can mitigate risks by requiring their beauticians to wear masks and sanitize their tools diligently after ever client. Frequent hand washing can also mitigate the medium risk level that Dr. Haggis labeled on beauty parlors and barbers.
Going on dates
Depending on how many infected people are in your area, or the area where your date is coming from, you may have different levels of risk. Will the date be worth it if you need to wear a mask the whole time and have to refrain from even shaking hands or speaking closely?
Visiting the beach
As long as you maintain 2 meters between yourself and other people and wear a mask, visiting the beach is one of the outdoor activities with the lowest risk. But a crowded area negates all of that–if a lot of people are there, do not continue.
Going to the grocery
Frequent hand sanitizing, social distancing, and wearing masks can mitigate risks to an acceptably low level when you’re out shopping. Touching the items is not that risky unless you put your fingers on your face. But you have to be extra vigilant at the cash register when paying–as that’s a surface that so many people touch.
As long as there isn’t a vaccine or a proven treatment for COVID-19, we all have to do our part to minimize the risk of infection for ourselves and for others–if you don’t really need to go out (and your mental health can still handle staying at home), please do not take any risks.