As businesses and entertainment venues begin to reopen, the desire to get back to “normal” is strong, but so is the fear that you may be increasing your risk of exposure to COVID-19. How can you decide if attending a public gathering, or even just going out to catch a movie, is worth the risk?

While there is no way to completely eliminate your risk, there are ways to greatly minimize it. In general, the more closely you interact with others and the longer the interaction is, the higher your risk of COVID-19 spread.

Some of the things to consider before heading out include:

  • How many people will you interact with?
    • Interacting with more people raises your risk
    • Being in a group of people who are not wearing face masks or social distancing raises your risk
    • Engaging with new people (those you don’t live with) increases your risk
    • Don’t forget that some people may have the virus but may not show symptoms, so being around those you don’t know well may increase your risk if they are carrying the virus
  • Can you keep 6 feet of space between you and others? Will you be indoors or outdoors?
    • The closer you are to those who may have been infected, the higher the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
    • If you are an individual at higher risk, keeping distance is very important to prevent exposure to the virus.
    • Indoor spaces make it harder to keep proper distance and support ventilation, thereby raising the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
    • If you will be in a situation where you may be sharing items (such as tools or equipment), you will be at higher risk of exposure to the virus. Consider bringing your own equipment, if possible, or cleaning wipes or other means to disinfect shared equipment.
    • Has the venue put social distancing markers in place? Do they have a policy for masks and hand cleaning stations readily available?
  • What is the length of time you’ll be spending with people?
    • Spending more time with people increases your risk of infection.
    • Spending more time with people also increases their risk of being infected by you (if you are carrying the virus but not showing symptoms)
  • Do you live with someone who is at high-risk?
    • If you live with someone who is at high-risk of complications as a result of being infected with COVID-19, you should carefully consider going out in public places and limit your contact with others, so as not to inadvertently carry the virus back to your loved one.

No matter what you decide, be sure to practice social distancing and best practices for limiting the spread of COVID-19. By being mindful of these practices, we can work together to stop the spread of the virus in our community.