Experts Rank 36 Activities For Coronavirus Risk

As states continue to ease restrictions, it falls upon us to manage our activities in the new viral world, deciding what we should continue to avoid and what poses the least amount of risk. Until we have a vaccine, we will have to move forward with the best efforts to reduce risk.

Four health officials in the state of Michigan weighed in to assess the levels of risk associated with different activities, all of them medical directors and infectious disease experts.

There are five factors to consider the level of risk: Whether it’s inside or outside; proximity to others; exposure time; likelihood of compliance; and personal risk level.

Bars — Risk Level 9

Mingling closely inside with others while letting your guard down is a big recipe for disaster. You cannot wear a mask while drinking. Risk level closest to 10.

Large Music Concerts — Risk Level 9

Even outdoor concerts involve many people close together with alcohol, but add in the singing. Singing is very effective at spreading the virus.

Sports Stadiums — Risk Level 8

Crowding, alcohol, yelling, singing. Nope.

Gyms — Risk Level 8

Breathing heavily to expel respiratory emissions and the likelihood of wearing a mask very uncomfortable. Once gyms are open they recommend using the individual equipment – and wiping it down – instead of doing indoor group activities like spin and dance classes.

Amusement Parks — Risk Level 8

Parks will need to limit the number of people, enforce distancing and constantly wipe down rides.

Churches — Risk Level 8

Early cases have been traced to churches. Even if seats are strategically placed and masks are worn, adding singing puts it on the scale with bars.

Buffets — Risk Level 8

Buffets are more hazardous than regular restaurants, but not as bad as bars. People congregate at a buffet and share serving utensils.

Basketball — Risk Level 7

Breathing hard and bumping into others, probably while not wearing a mask. If you play outdoors with members of your household the risk is reduced.

Public Pools — Risk Level 7

There is no way to make it safe when people will not be wearing a mask to swim. There is no data to show what chlorinated water does to reduce the risk when the level of chlorine is low. Swim in your own pool with members of your household.

Schools — Risk Level 7

Students are often within 6 feet of eah other for extended periods of time. Add in additional challenges getting students to distance, wear masks correctly and wash hands.

Casinos — Risk Level 6

Crowds, alcohol, and loud talking are the risk factors. If an open floor plan can be developed to separate people along with other precautions the risk can be lowered.

Restaurants-Indoor Seating — Risk Level 6

Eating inside a restaurant is riskier than eating outdoors because of the air exchange. Because the same air is recirculated through a building and people aren’t wearing masks, it’s easy to spread the virus to people even more than 6 feet away. If you are going to eat indoors, ask for a table away from high traffic areas like the entrance or restrooms.

Playgrounds — Risk Level 6

Kids will touch things and not stay 6 feet apart. A supervised playground with small numbers of children would have a lower level of risk.

Hair Salons and Barbershops — Risk Level 6

Social distancing is impossible when you are face to face with someone cutting your hair. To reduce the risk, masks should be worn by both the customers and staff. The waiting area should be closed, having people wait in their cars or outside, and go to a place that is not using hairdryers as this could circulate the virus around the room. Elderly clients should have the earliest times in the day when the environment is virus free.

Boat Rides — Risk Level 6

If going with others outside of your household, high risk especially when loud talking and drinking are involved.

Movie Theaters — Risk Level 6

Theaters need to look differently if they want to reopen with low risk, with precautions like spacing out seating, making people wear masks and limiting when people can get up and walk by others who are seated. Outdoor theaters would be better.

Dinner Parties at a House — Risk Level 5

Inside dinner parties are more risky than outdoor parties, where you can space people further away from each other.

Airplanes — Risk Level 5

Opinions were up in the air (ha!) from the experts. Although the air is filtered very well, people are close together for extended periods of time with the possibility of masks not being worn correctly and surfaces plentiful if not wiped down.

Backyard Barbecues — Risk Level 5

Low risk if people keep their distance.

Malls — Risk Level 5

Can be high risk if there are no reductions in the number of people and mask wearing, but lower risk if all follow the rules.

Beaches — Risk Level 5

Low risk if there is distance. Go at off-peak times like early morning to avoid crowds.

Bowling — Risk Level 5

Not known for high filtration levels, being indoors causes risks. Lanes should be alternated and distancing necessary. Surfaces should be wiped down.

Dentist — Risk Level 4

The experts disagreed, with two saying low risk, one medium, and one high. While dentists wear masks and other protective equipment, one expert said that cleaning inside the mouth aerosolizes what’s in the mouth — if you can avoid it, do so.

Walking in a Busy Downtown — Risk Level 4

Being outside and being able to avoid others is key. If it is busy with many people, it should be avoided.

Offices — Risk Level 4

Offices are lower risk if employers enforce rules of distancing and masking. If you can still work from home, that is safer, since being around people for 8 to 10 hours can increase risk.

Doctor’s Office Waiting Areas — Risk Level 4

Spacing out chairs or waiting in cars to be called in are best. Waiting rooms will be risky if precautions are ignored.

Eating Outside at a Restaurant — Risk Level 4

Eating outdoors is much safer than eating indoors with open air reducing the concentration of the virus.

Grocery Stores — Risk Level 3

Masking is key and if precautionay protocols are in place. Not wearing masks increases the risk.

Camping — Risk Level 3

Riskier than staying at home, but in family units rather than children’s camping outings or in groups.

Hotels — Risk Level 3

The biggest risks in hotels are where people congregate such as check-in desks or breakfasts and elevators. How your room was cleaned or who was in your room previously is not as much of a factor.

Golfing — Risk Level 3

Being outdoors without contact and in small groups keeps it low risk. Don’t share carts and stay 6 feet away from each other.

Libraries and Museums — Risk Level 3

Typically low volumes of people with higher ceilings. They are also more likely to enforce distancing and mask wearing.

Going for a walk, run, or bike ride with others — Risk Level 3

Low risk when not encountering many people, but risk increases with more people involved. Give extra space if you are breathing hard.

Getting Fuel — Risk Level 2

Being outdoors and away from people keeps it low risk. While the virus can stay on the handle, use sanitizer to stay safe.

Getting Takeout from a Restaurant — Risk Level 1

Experts have little concern with takeout especially with curbside pickup and contactless payment.

Playing Tennis — Risk Level 1

Playing outdoors with a lot of space between players keeps it low risk.

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