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36 Activities and Their COVID-19 Risks

36 Activities and Their COVID-19 Risks

Restrictions are gradually being loosened but people are still anxious about being infected COVID-19 as the “new normal” begins to materialise.

For the past few months, people have been told to wear masks, wash their hands with soap and water or hand sanitiser, and maintain a safe distance of at least one metre from other people.

According to MLive, which spoke to four public health experts in Michigan, the US, the risk levels of spreading the coronavirus at public facilities and doing activities have been assessed. These experts all agree that outdoor activities are generally safer because the virus doesn’t get recirculated in the air.  For example, they noted that “walking by a person on a trail is less likely to spread the virus, compared to sitting in an enclosed space with somebody for hours.”

The health experts who made the assessments are:

They have awarded a score that has then been averaged and rounded to the nearest whole number for activities, with one being the least risky to 10 being the riskiest. The scores factor in five elements: indoors or outdoors, proximity to others, exposure time, likelihood of compliance, and personal risk level.

“Until we have a vaccine, we are going to have to move forward with risk reduction strategies,” Dr. Matthew Sims said. “Because you can’t keep the economy on hold forever, you can’t keep peoples’ lives on hold forever.”

Many people can be carriers of the virus without showing symptoms; it’s impossible to know who is and who isn’t infected at any given time and place. Therefore, it’s essential for everyone to take precautions to make the risk-level for each activity lower.

“Anything where there’s a crowd of people, without risk reduction strategies, it’s a 10,” Dr. Matthew Sims added.

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

Bars

Risk level: 9

According to the doctors, bars are riskier than restaurants. “After a couple of drinks, customers starting to feel a little more invincible,” Dr. Nasir Husain said, “And that’s when the trouble starts.” Once intoxicated, awareness fades – masks won’t be worn while drinking and more close socialising will happen.

Large Music Concerts

Risk level: 9

Concerts, regardless of whether the venue is indoors or outdoors, let the virus thrive. One of the biggest concerns about concerts is singing. “Singing is a really effective way of spreading the virus,” Dr. Mimi Emig said. Talking or singing loudly may potentially emit the virus into the environment.

Sports Stadiums

Risk level: 8

Crowds, alcohol, cheers, yelling, singing, and general noise-making allow the virus to spread easily.

Gyms

Risk level: 8

Dr. Nasir Husain said that there’ll be, “more respiratory secretions when working out and breathing heavily.” Sure, it’s a burden to exercise while wearing a mask and most gyms are cramped spaces, but Dr. Mimi Emig suggested to use individual equipment instead of going for spin or dance classes which involves a lot of people in the same room.

Amusement Parks

Risk level: 8

Applying risk reduction strategies such as limiting the number of people, enforcing distancing, wiping down rides after each use, and more, still makes parks difficult to manage according to the experts.

Churches

Risk level: 8

Seats rearranged appropriately to a safe distance, masks being worn, and other precautions can help reduce risks. But including singing in a service can make a church as equally risky as bars, according to Dr. Mimi Emig.

Buffets

Risk level: 8

Buffets are more hazardous than regular restaurants but not as bad as bars, the experts conclude. Utensils are shared and people tightly gather around buffet tables. “If a buffet is redesigned to limit the flow and other risks, the risk level can be lower,” Dr. Matthew Sims said.

Basketball

Risk level: 7

Though the experts recognise that most outdoor activities are low risk, this excludes contact sports like basketball. “You’re banging into each other,” Dr. Matthew Sims said. “There’s a chance for masks to be ripped off. People may not want to use masks because as you start breathing harder, the masks become more and more uncomfortable.” However, Dr. Nasir Husain pointed out that playing alone or with people from the same household has a much lower risk.

Public Pools

Risk level: 7

Swimming in a public pool is risky when compared to personal pools. “There’s no way to make it safe,”        Dr. Mimi Emig said, “How are you going to wear your mask in the pool?” Masks aren’t waterproof, thus it’s impossible to swim with masks on. “We don’t have good data to show how the virus would behave in a pool,” Dr. Nasir Husain said, adding that “Pool water does have chlorine in it, but I don’t think it’s high enough to be very effective in completely reducing risks to zero.”

Schools

Risk level: 7

The doctors stated that there are plenty of complicating factors that may spread COVID-19 in schools. It’s also challenging to get children to follow precautions such as distancing.

Casinos

Risk level: 6

“Casinos with more of an open floor plan and other precautions in place will be less risky,” the experts said. Still, casinos have crowds, alcohol, and loud talking to be cautious of.

Restaurants, Indoor Seating

Risk level: 6

The air exchange inside a room makes it riskier when compared to eating outdoors because of the recirculated air. Also, masks won’t be worn while eating. Dr. Matthew Sims recommends to ask for a table that’s not in a high traffic area such as near the entrance or bathrooms.

Playgrounds

Risk level: 6

“Kids tend to touch their mouth and cough or sneeze on surfaces. You can’t make little kids practice safe distancing – it’s just not the way they work,” Dr. Dennis Cunningham observed. Kids may become vectors of the virus, but having a small number of kids being supervised can contribute to much lower risk, claimed the experts.

Hair Salons and Barbershops

Risk level: 6

Haircuts and hairstyling while practicing physical distancing is impossible. But it’s possible to make it less risky by all customers and staff wearing masks along with having an outdoor waiting area in place. Those who have a higher risk contracting the virus should opt for an early morning appointment. Dr. Mimi Emig also suggests to avoid hairdryers as that could potentially circulate the virus around the room.

Boat Rides

Risk level: 6

Again, doing activities with people from different households is risky. “It’s a slightly higher risk than some other gatherings because there’s a better chance of drinking and loud talking on boat rides,“ Dr. Mimi Emig said.

Movie Theatres

Risk level: 6

Precautions like spacing out seating, making people wear masks, and limiting when people can get up and walk by others who are seated need to be considered before opening, note the experts. Outdoor theatres are better options.

Dinner Parties at Home

Risk level: 5

Indoor social gatherings bring more risk than outdoor ones, the experts said. It’s possible to limit the number of people at gatherings but it’ll be complicated to keep a safe distance between everyone.

Airplanes

Risk level: 5

Discussing what precautions airlines should take, from wearing masks to eliminating the middle seat and wiping down surfaces, Dr. Dennis Cunningham stated “that’s actually pretty safe, the air is very well filtered on airplanes. As long as someone’s not obviously sick.” But Dr. Mimi Emig disagrees, “The issue is most people don’t wear masks correctly. And plane trips can have lots of people together for long periods of time,” she argued.

Backyard Barbecues

Risk level: 5

If people are masked and keep their distance, experts said backyard barbecues are low risk.

Malls

Risk level: 5

Stores limiting the number of people, wearing masks, and other rules being followed can actually decrease malls to 2 out of 10 on the risk scale, according to Dr. Matthew Sims.

Beaches

Risk level: 5

Beaches are complicated, the experts said. There could be a wide range of risks depending on the situation. Though beaches are considered low risk if it’s not crowded and people maintain their distance, it’s difficult to limit numbers and enforce precautions at beaches, all experts agreed.

Bowling

Risk level: 5

“Bowling balls, tables, consoles, and other equipment need to be cleaned thoroughly, people need to wear masks, and every other lane needs to be left open to reduce risk at bowling alleys,” Dr. Matthew Sims said.

Dentist’s Offices

Risk level: 4

Two experts viewed going to the dentist as low risk, one said it’s a medium risk, and the other said it’s high risk.

Dentists already wear masks and will likely wear extra protective equipment like surgical masks and shields to keep themselves protected. Dr. Mimi Emig, however, was the one expert to say going to the dentist has a higher risk than getting a haircut.

“Dental cleaning aerosolises what’s in your mouth,” Emig said. “If somebody unknowingly has the infection, that virus is going to get aerosolised.”

Walking Down a Busy Street

Risk level: 4

Being outdoors and not exposed to a particular person for a long period makes it low risk. Again, if it’s crowded, it will be worse.

Offices

Risk level: 4

Offices are lower risk because employers can better enforce rules. The experts say it’s still safer to work from home since being around people for eight or 10 hours increases risk.

Doctor’s Office Waiting Rooms

Risk level: 4

Many hospitals and doctor’s offices are changing protocols in response to the pandemic. These precautions all help lower the risk, but waiting rooms could be risky if patients are ignoring precautions.

Eating Outside at a Restaurant

Risk level: 4

The four experts interviewed unanimously agree: Eating outdoors at a restaurant is safer than eating inside since there’s better air circulation.

Going to the Shop

Risk level: 3

New precautions are being rolled out in supermarkets such as one-way systems, mask-wearing, and screens for check-out staff.

Camping

Risk level: 3

The experts said it’s far riskier for families to go camping than staying home, especially for children who go to camping events or overnight camps.

Hotels

Risk level: 3

Dr. Mimi Emig claimed that the hygiene of hotel rooms shouldn’t be the main concern because “that’s not the most likely way the virus would be spread in a hotel environment.” In fact, check-in times and any other times people might congregate are worrisome. Try to find a hotel that has a contactless check-in.

Golfing

Risk level: 3

Golfing has a low risk because it’s outdoors, is a non-contact sport, and has small groups of people. But mingling and sharing golf carts raise concerns. “Just play golf, say hi and bye, and go on your merry way,” Dr. Nasir Husain said, “Don’t come close to each other.”

Libraries and Museums

Risk level: 3

These aren’t typically super crowded areas and often have large open spaces, which helps lower risk.

Going for a Walk, Run, or Bike Ride with Others

Risk level: 2

Walking, running, and biking on trails all pose a low risk as there’s less contact with other people taking place. The risk increases if you’re with a larger group of people who are close together and not wearing masks.

Getting Petrol

Risk level: 2

Putting petrol in your car is low risk, the experts asserted. While in theory, the virus can stay on the handle of the gas pump from the previous customer, the virus is mainly spread through the air via close contact with people, the experts added.

Getting Takeaway From a Restaurant

Risk level: 1

New safety measures are being implemented so making takeouts a lesser risk as compared to eating at a restaurant.

Playing Tennis

Risk level: 1

This sport ensures spacing, is mostly outdoors and includes only two to four people. While some sports activities cause concern for health experts, tennis is not one of them.

Source: MLive

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