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It’s important to recognize risk and be able to make smart decisions during the coronavirus pandemic. Even a few days of high-risk activities, when you’ve been doing low-risk steps for a while, can have negative consequences.

Infectious disease expert and MD Dr. Sandra Kesh said of the activities, “With most of these activities there is relative risk and it depends largely on two things: the environment and what you do in that environment. The thing that’s hard to control is what’s happening in the environment.” It’s important to consider your community’s transmission and infection rate when making choices about what to do outside the home.

High-Risk Level Activities:

  • Air Travel
  • Going to Bars
  • Getting a Haircut

These activities are all dependent on the safety of those on your plane and in the bar. Because the volume of people in these situations is hight, it’s a higher risk activity. “Bars are noisy, so you’re yelling your drink order at the bartender and other people are right by you — it’s really a perfect environment for that shared air space which we get so worried about,” Kesh says.

Medium to High-Risk Level:

  • Eating Inside a Restaurant
  • Seeing Friends Inside

Choose takeout or eat at home to reduce this risk. Again, the more people around, the higher the risk of transmission. “The thing that I see a lot of is when we are around our friends, people tend to relax. Then they have a few drinks and they relax even more so the masks come off and everyone gets closer together, then before you know it everyone is having face-to-face conversations without a mask on,” Kesh told CNET.

Medium Risk Level:

  • Going to a Gym

In a gym, people are exercising and exhaling with force, which makes this situation more dangerous. The less crowded the gym is, the lower the risk.

Medium to Low

  • Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping safety is dependent on the time of day, size of the store, and other factors. Make this activity as safe as possible by shopping at off-hours, obeying social distancing rules, and wearing a mask.

Low to Medium

  • Eating Outside

Eating outside is less risky because of the open air. According to Kesh, “Outdoors viral particles and droplets disperse in open air much more quickly. And hopefully everyone is wearing a mask, but again if the mask is off while you are eating, there is still a risk, even though it’s lower.” Make sure the tables are spaced apart and that plastic dividers are present.

Low to Moderate:

  • Seeing Friends Outside

Wear masks outside and limit touching and practice social distancing. In your own backyard, you can control the environment in a better way than seeing friends indoors in crowded spaces.


  • Going to a Park

“I count parks as low risk environments as long as you are wearing masks and keeping that six-foot rule. I’ve seen some city parks that have paint on the grass to help distance people, but they need to follow those rules,” Kesh says. Again, follow social distancing rules.

Read more about protecting yourself from coronavirus. Check the CDC website for more information on how to protect yourself and check our latest article to learn how COVID-19 differs from the flu.

Masks save lives. Sign this petition to Tell Congress to Introduce a Federal Mask Mandate!

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