The coronavirus pandemic might have changed the way you behave in certain places, such as the mall or the grocery store, but some things are so automatic that you don’t even realize you are doing them.
To make sure you stay on the safe side, read on to find out what health experts say you should avoid doing in public for the time being. In addition, be aware of these 18 Apparently Harmless Habits That Increase Your Coronavirus Risk!
Use your phone
Can you imagine going out without your phone? If your answer is no, don’t worry, most people can’t. But precisely because your phone has become such an important tool in your life and you touch it on a daily basis, you need to know when it’s ok to use it and when it’s best that you leave it inside your pocket or bag.
According to Robert Karsch, MD, FAAOS, a surgeon with AICA Orthopedics, people should “stop touching their devices [including] cell phones” after touching various surfaces in public areas. That’s because you could carry harmful pathogens from the surfaces to the phone and then to your face. The best thing to do is always “wash your hands and don’t touch your face,” says Karsch.
Since we’re on the subject of phones, here are 11 Most Common Phone Myths You Should Stop Believing.
Touch handrails or doorknobs
Holding onto a handrail for support whenever you go up or down the stairs or using the doorknob to open a door might have been harmless before, but know, in the age of the novel coronavirus, things couldn’t be more different.
You might want to touch these surfaces out of pure reflex but, according to Cara Natterson, MD, you should “avoid this if you can” in public places because they represent a source of transmission of the virus. If you really mist touch them, “just make sure to wash your hands or use your hand sanitizer immediately after and avoid touching your face until you do,” she urges.
Apart from handrails and doorknobs, You’ll NEVER Want to Touch These 7 Things Again After COVID-19!
Swim in a public pool
There’s no better time than summer to enjoy a day by the pool and take a dive whenever the sun is too strong. Unfortunately, public pools are exactly the safest places right now. “Swimming together in a pool with people who don’t live under your same roof is not a great idea—literally, you are mixing the germ pool,” says Natterson.
On the bright side, you can still go to an outdoor pool and relax, as long as you are doing it six feet away from other people. That’s because, according to most experts, the danger is not in the water but in the people sitting too close to you, so practice social distancing at all times!
Speaking of water, here are 5 Places It Is Actually Safe to Go During Coronavirus Pandemic.
Board a crowded train
No matter how badly you might want to get to work in the morning, boarding a crowded train is not the best option right now. Until a vaccine is discovered for COVID-19 or herd immunity is achieved, being in crowded, enclosed spaces is extremely risky.
“Do your best to use [public transportation] during off-hours when spaces are less crowded,” suggests Natterson. If this isn’t possible, make sure you wear a face mask, touch as fewer surfaces as possible and wash your hands as soon as you have the chance. And avoid these 7 Most Common Face Mask Mistakes You’re Probably Making.
Having a meal with friends
Local restaurants need our support now more than ever but going out with friends is, unfortunately, risky business. First of all, it’s hard to eat with a face mask on; not wearing a mask increases the risk of contracting the virus. Secondly, social distancing in smaller places is practically impossible.
Even in the case of a picnic, things are not that simple. “Definitely avoid sharing serving utensils, including serving pieces,” recommends Natterson, MD. “If people aren’t bringing their own food, one person should serve so that multiple people aren’t touching the same plates, spoons, etc.” to prevent cross-contamination and transmission.
If you want to find out more things that are not exactly safe, check out The Riskiest and Safest Activities to Do Right Now, According to CDC.
Play team sports
“We know that being outside will likely lower your risk of getting COVID because it’s good for your immune system,” said Jerome Adams, MD, the U.S. surgeon general. “The virus is going to be less likely to spread outside than in enclosed indoor spaces.” But this does not mean that outdoor activities, like team sports, cannot represent a risk of getting sick with COVID or any other illness.
It’s not only about the sweat, spit and the like, it’s also the shared equipment that can turn into a major source of transmission. The team sports with the highest risk include:
Play on playgrounds
Remember the playgrounds full of high-energy kids? It might take a while before seeing that again. That’s because, according to the CDC, playgrounds are still not safe and social distancing can become quite a challenge.
While it’s better to be outdoors than indoors, playgrounds are full of high-touch surfaces made of plastic or metal, like grab bars and railings, touched by tens of tiny hands. If a playground is full of children, try coming back another time, maybe early in the morning when there are fewer people. And if you really want your kids to consume their energy outdoors, “go for a bike ride, walk or run together, roller skate, [or] play kickball—all while wearing a mask,” recommends Natterson.