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What we know about your chances of catching the virus outdoors

By PAOLA NAVARETTE

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 As countries move to relax restrictions intended to fight the pandemic, even the simplest outdoor activities seem fraught with a thousand questions and calculations. Is it safe to meet friends in the park, as long as they stay six feet away, on the other side of a blanket? What about eating a slice of pizza at an outdoor restaurant? How risky is a trip to the beach or swimming pool with the kids?

The good news: Interviews show a growing consensus among experts that, if people are going to leave their homes, it’s safer to be outside than in the gym or the mall. With fresh air and more space between people, the risk goes down.

But experts also expressed particular caution about outdoor dining and crowds in places like concerts. While going outside can help people cope with quarantine fatigue, there is a risk they will lower their guard or meet people who are not being safe.

Mlive, a Minneapolis-based site recently talked to four doctors—each of whom has a background in infectious disease and prevention—in order to know what type of places and activities individuals might want to steer clear of for the time being.

Experts Dr. Matthew Sims, Dr. Dennis Cunningham, Dr. Mimi Emig, and Dr. Nasir Husain first pointed out five factors when considering how risky a given activity might be: proximity to others, indoors or outdoors, exposure time, likelihood of compliance, and personal risk level.

They then assembled a list of recreational activities and ranked them by their associated coronavirus disease risk—from one to 10, with a 10 being the riskiest and a one being the least risky. The final score is an average of scores given by the health experts, rounded to the nearest whole number.

And the most high-risk activity, not surprisingly, is drinking in a bar. Aside from the fact that bars tend to pack people in, people are less liable to adhere to safety guidelines while intoxicated.

“After a couple of drinks, they’re starting to feel a little more invincible,” Dr. Husain said. “And that’s when the trouble starts.”

Other activities the doctors cautioned against include large music concerts, sports stadiums, gyms, and amusement parks.

On the other hand, the activities that are deemed less risky include going for a walk, getting fuel, playing tennis, getting takeout from a restaurant.

Ideally, people should socialize only with people who live in their homes, they say. If you decide to meet friends, you’re increasing your risk, but you can take precautions. It’s important to keep gatherings small. Keep your hands clean, carry hand sanitizer with you when you go into places like stores, and keep at least six feet from people who don’t live in your home.

Ranking from the most hazardous public locations/activities to the least, here are 36 activities and their risk levels:

Bars

Risk level: 9

Large music concerts

Risk level: 9

Sports stadiums

Risk level: 8

Gyms

Risk level: 8

Amusement parks

Risk level: 8

Churches

Risk level: 8

Buffets

Risk level: 8

Basketball

Risk level: 7

Public pools

Risk level: 7

Schools

Risk level: 7

Casinos

Risk level: 6

Restaurants, indoor seating

Risk level: 6

Playgrounds

Risk level: 6

Hair salons, barbershops

Risk level: 6

Pontoon boat rides

Risk level: 6

Movie theaters

Risk level: 6

Dinner parties at a house

Risk level: 5

Airplanes

Risk level: 5

Backyard barbecues

Risk level: 5

Malls

Risk level: 5

Beaches

Risk level: 5

Bowling

Risk level: 5

Dentist’s offices

Risk level: 4

Walking in a busy downtown

Risk level: 4

Offices

Risk level: 4

Doctor’s office waiting rooms

Risk level: 4

Eating outside at a restaurant

Risk level: 4

Getting groceries

Risk level: 3

Camping

Risk level: 3

Hotels

Risk level: 3

Golfing

Risk level: 3

Libraries and museums

Risk level: 3

Going for a walk, run, or bike ride with others

Risk level: 2

Getting fuel

Risk level: 2

Getting takeout from a restaurant

Risk level: 1

Playing tennis

Risk level: 1


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2020/06/16/what-we-know-about-your-chances-of-catching-the-virus-outdoors/)

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