Jul 7, 2020
Is It Safe to Go Out Again?
By Emily Winter
Before you get a haircut or go to a barbecue, know the health and financial implications.
There are conflicting reports on which, if any, activities you should participate in this summer due to the continuing spread of Covid-19. And even if the risk of spreading or contracting the virus is low, the virus can take a toll on your health and your finances.
Even though experts don’t completely agree on what activities you should take a chance on this summer, they do tend to agree about the health and financial pitfalls of each. With that in mind, here are expert opinions on the financial and health risks of popular summer activities so you can make informed decisions for yourself:
Backyard BBQs and Small Backyard Gatherings
Health Risk: Low to Medium
Cost: Up at least 2.6 percent
Details: Grocery store prices rose 2.6 percent in April of 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s the biggest one-month increase since 1976. So, expect to pay more for the food and drink you provide at your backyard BBQ.
And on the health front: “Five people can easily maintain social distance and can avoid physically touching one another,” says certified holistic health coach Alessandra Kessler.
Restaurants, Indoor and Outdoor
Indoor Health Risk: High
Outdoor Health Risk: Low to Medium
Cost: Going up, case by case
Details: Restaurant food costs have risen 38 percent because of the pandemic, especially for high-end meat, according to Business Insider. Adding extra safety precautions and letting in fewer customers at a time mean most restaurants will need to charge more to make up their overhead.
“Consider going to restaurants possibly with outdoor seating for now,” says Magdalena Cadet, a New York-based rheumatologist. She notes that an indoor restaurant at a quarter capacity with proper safety measures also lowers your risk of getting Covid-19. “Waiters/waitresses should be wearing facial coverings, as well as individuals if they are not at the table and have to get up to walk or use the bathroom.”
Health Risk: High
Details: Leann Poston, a former pediatrician and medical writer for Invigor Medical, says worship services are particularly dangerous because you have both a high possibility of exposure and you’ll be there for a long period of time. “The risk for a COVID viral infection is determined by multiplying the number of viral particles that you are exposed to by the amount of time you are exposed to the virus. Increasing the number of people in a given space and decreasing the physical distance between people also increases risk,” she says.
Many experts suggest attending outdoor worship services instead.
Getting a Haircut
Health Risk: Medium to High
Cost: At least $3 – $5 more
Details: It won’t be unusual to see your salon add a “sanitation charge” of $3 to $15, according to some reports. Additionally, CEO of Credit Repair Companies Andrew Roderick says he expects the cost of haircuts themselves will rise because fewer people can be in the salon at once.
As far as health concerns, Poston notes that haircuts may involve just a few people, but you’re in a confined space for a long time. It’s not as bad as being with many people in a confined space, such as in the case of a nightclub, but all safety precautions should be taken.
Beaches and Public Pools:
Health Risk: Low to Medium
Cost: Static, except for private pools which are seeing costs soar.
Details: Thinking of installing an above-ground pool in your yard to avoid the crowds? So is everyone else. Above-ground pools are in such high demand that people are reportedly paying up to 400 percent more than the market price for them on eBay, according to NBC.
Cadet says: “Currently as per the CDC, there does not appear to be a risk of contracting Covid-19 in swimming pools, spas, and the hot tubs, as long as there are appropriate measures for disinfecting maintenance of the pools and hot tubs with adequate chlorine or bromine which should inactivate the virus. There has been no current evidence suggesting there is spread of the virus through unexpected drinking or swallowing water in pools or hot tubs either again as long as the appropriate amount of chlorine or bromine is used to disinfect the water source.”
And Kessler reminds patrons to make sure they social distance while in the water, and check with their public pool to ensure it’s at half capacity.
Nightclubs, Bars, Indoor Parties
Health Risk: High
Cost: TBD, potential surcharge at the door
Details: Experts put indoor, tightly-packed partying at a very high risk. In South Korea, nightclubs were linked to a second spike of the virus. As for the financial aspect, it’s too early to tell, but the health risks alone might dissuade you!
Shopping at a Mall
Health Risk: High, especially if it’s crowded
Cost of Retail Items: Decreasing
Details: Many mall stores are having sales to lure customers back. Upscale department store Von Maur, for example, set almost all items at a 25 percent discount as they reopen around the country.
Though the prices are low, Poston reminds us that the health risks are high, since you’ll be around many people for a long period of time.
Playing Sports Outdoors
Health Risk: Low to High
Cost: Lower cost bikes are up, premium bike costs are down
Details: The health risks all have to do with whether the sport in question forces you to come in close proximity to others. “Avoid contact sports like soccer, basketball, football, and lacrosse,” says Cadet. She adds that playgrounds are also unsafe.
Biking and running are healthy alternatives, but much like private pools, the demand for lower-end bikes has skyrocketed at least 121 percent. With most models being sold out, retailers have put their highest-end bikes on sale to attract customers. If you’ve got the cash, you can now purchase a $3500 bike for approximately $2000.
A Few Notes on Bathroom Safety
Letting a Friend Come in to Use Your Restroom is Okay. “Letting a friend use your restroom is fine and many would recommend thoroughly disinfecting it prior to additional use,” says Moshe Lewis, a physiatrist in San Francisco, California.
Public Restrooms Should Be Used with Caution: “Public restrooms have a higher risk of viral transmission as everybody uses it,” says Kessler. But washing your hands and disinfecting hard surfaces can dramatically lower the risk of catching Covid-19.