Coronavirus: Riskiest and Least Risky Everyday Activities Like Going to The Salon, Gym and Bars


After being at home for months in quarantine, sheltering in place, and social distancing, many areas of the country are re-opening and some everyday activities are resuming, while there is still a serious risk for coronavirus -- but which are the riskiest and which are safer?

Dr. Susan Hassig, an epidemiologist at Tulane University, weighed in on some of the most common and popular things people will begin doing this summer and shares just how concerned someone should be.

Read: Coronavirus: Cleaning Products Approved to Combat COVID-19

She tells Business Insider, "This virus isn't just out in the environment waiting to jump down your respiratory tract. It's captured, it's acquired by interacting with people." Despite the reopenings in many areas, she notes, "Given the opportunity, it will spread," explaining she did not rush out to restaurants when they began reopening in her area. 

A helpful way to approach the possible risk of being infected with the virus is by looking at three elements: diversity (the number of household mixing), distance (whenever you are less than six feet away from someone not in your household) and duration (the length the encounter taking place for). Dr. Hassig breaks down what she feels is the risk factor of many day-to-day activities you might be considering in the coming months.

Pool parties and cookouts - HIGH RISK - Due to shared food, possible alcohol use (which could lead to making poor choices about safety protocols), the pressure to not to distance, and masks possibly not being worn by guests.

BarsHIGH RISK - This is concerning to the epidemiologist due to the number of people gathered and in such close proximity and she shares this activity is one she is "most concerned about" as more bars re-open.

Going to church or a house of worship - HIGH RISK - This is a concern due to the older age of many of the participants, lack of distancing and she notes if singing is involved, it could pose a greater risk due to the projection of droplets.

Group sportsHIGH RISK - This is due to the heavy breathing of the participants and the possible close proximity to other people while playing.

Gym - MEDIUM to HIGH RISK - If gym equipment is spaced out the risk lowers, but she shares her concern for trainers who will likely encounter more people in an enclosed space throughout the day.

Indoor dinner parties - MEDIUM to HIGH RISK - Dr. Hassig notes her concerns are the mixing of households, not wearing a mask while eating and not being able to distance.

Taking mass transit - MEDIUM to HIGH RISK - She says travel on airplanes, trains, buses, and the subway that elements like being close to others for an extended period of time could pose a risk.

Dating - MEDIUM RISK - The epidemiologist stresses the importance of knowing about the other person's recent history before seeing them in person and suggests to review their social media to see if they have been co-mingling with large groups in recent weeks. If they have, she urges daters to make that date a virtual one for the time being.

Going to the dentistMEDIUM RISK - This is due to the proximity to the dentist or hygienist for an extended period of time and one's mouth is open for much of the visit.

Visiting a salon or barberMEDIUM RISK - This activity also presents a possible proximity issue for an extended period of time. Both parties should wear masks and practice all preventive tips before and after the visit.

Pools and beachesMEDIUM RISK - She notes the water in the pool and at the beach is not a risk for COVID, but the concern is when there are large groups gathered near each other.

Airbnb - MEDIUM RISK - The epidemiologist says the risk depends on how the location is being cleaned and whether or not 72 hours have passed since the last guest visit. She expresses a concern for properties that have guests check in the same day as the previous guest checkouts.

Hotels - LOW to MEDIUM RISK - She says if hotels follow more robust cleaning procedures and allow 1 - 2 days betweens guest for each room the risk drops.

Shopping - LOW RISK - Dr. Hassig says this is generally a low-risk activity, but if it occurs in a mall or a place where people are gathering, then the risk level increases.

CampingLOW RISK - If you avoid gathering with other households or the exposure to shared facilities like cooking areas or campfires with multiple households, she says this is a low-risk activity.

Walking or running - LOW RISK - If this is done alone or with people in your household this a low-risk activity and the risk increases with the more people you encounter and interact with.

Read: Flying during Coronavirus: The Risks and How to Reduce Chances of Getting Sick

The Doctors stress the importance of continuing to follow all prevention guidelines: social distancing, routine and frequent handwashing, wearing a mask when in public, the cleaning of high touch surfaces, avoiding people who are sick, and if you are experiencing COVID symptoms or believe you have been exposed, contact your doctor or healthcare provider about getting tested. Find out more information about local COVID-19 testing in your area, including free testing.



*Get more resources, tips, advice, and news on coronavirus/COVID-19 from The Doctors and stay informed on the latest information on the coronavirus from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization and learn about prevention methods and what to do if you are infected.


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