Woman in mask

Many Maryland businesses that were forced to close due to coronavirus are now open. That has a lot of people wondering: Is it safe to go out?

Though some businesses are open and restrictions around some activities have been lifted, it is still important to consider your specific health situation when making this important decision.

There are many activities that people were not allowed to do in Maryland during the beginning of the pandemic. Now, many of these businesses and activities are open. Some activities that you have a choice to take part in include:

  • Going out to eat at a restaurant or bar
  • Getting a haircut
  • Getting your nails done
  • Going to the movies
  • Going to shopping malls
  • Outdoor activities like visiting public parks or fishing

Right now, the question shouldn't be "Is it safe to go out?" Instead, you should be asking yourself if it's safe for you to do a specific activity or visit a certain place.

Going Out During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Deciding if it's safe to go out can be difficult at this time. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), here are the high-level questions you should be asking yourself before going out:

  • Is coronavirus spreading in your community?
  • Will you potentially have close contact with someone who is sick?
  • Will you potentially have close contact with people who are not wearing a face mask?
  • Do you have or live with someone who has an underlying condition that could increase the risk of severe illness?
  • Do you take everyday coronavirus prevention measures?

Even if you answer all of these questions and determine that you might be able to go out, there are other factors that you should take into consideration.

The Number of People

The more people you interact with, the higher your risk of contracting the virus will be. Social distancing is currently one of the best tools we have for preventing this virus.

People who feel sick or are concerned they may have the virus should stay home to avoid infecting others, but even if someone doesn't appear sick or show any coronavirus symptoms, they could be an asymptomatic carrier of the disease and infect others.

Ability to Physically Distance

If you are going out, you should ideally be able to remain at least six feet away from people who do not live with you. The closer you are to other people, the higher your risk of contracting the virus.

Wearing a mask can help reduce the chance of coronavirus spread when you can't maintain the recommended six feet of distancing.

Length of Time

If the activity you are participating in or the place you are going requires prolonged time in close contact with others, then the risk of contracting the virus will be higher.

If you are an asymptomatic carrier of the virus, prolonged contact with others could also put them at risk for contracting the virus. Wearing a mask can help reduce this risk, but the longer you are in close contact with others, the higher the chance that you or someone else will take off their mask or have it slip off of their face.

Coronavirus Tips: Going Out Safely

If you take all of these factors into account and decide that it's safe to go out, you still need to take some basic prevention measures to help keep yourself safe.

Practice Basic Prevention Measures

When you are out, continue practicing the prevention measures that we know keep us safe from coronavirus. This includes:

Have a Kit

If you decide to go out, it's important to have some essentials on hand for preventing coronavirus infection and properly disinfecting yourself and high-touch objects. This should include:

  • A face mask
  • Hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol
  • Tissues, which can be used to cover your mouth if you sneeze or cough and when you must come in contact with high-touch surfaces like doorknobs

Stay Outside

Many indoor places are currently open to the public in a limited capacity. However, the CDC currently recommends being outside when possible, especially if you are going to be in close proximity to other people.

Outdoor locations usually provide ample room to remain six or more feet apart from others. If you must be indoors, look for a location with some additional air ventilation, such as an open window.

Look for Barriers

Barriers between people — such as plexiglass screens, floor markings and modified layouts — can help limit the spread of coronavirus. This not only keeps the droplets that help spread coronavirus from reaching others, but it also provides a visual reminder for people to keep their distance.