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Don’t Go Here Even If It’s Open, Experts Warn

These are the riskiest settings for COVID spread.
FACT CHECKED BY Checkmark Alek Korab
Waitress in medical mask inviting customer

Certain coronavirus restrictions are relaxing, even as new mutations threaten to cause more cases. In case you are curious about whether or not it is now safe to return to your go-to haunts, the Texas Medical Association COVID-19 Task Force and Committee on Infectious Diseases have created a ranking of activities on their risk level for COVID-19. “The levels are based on input from the physician members of the task force and the committee, who worked from the assumption that–no matter the activity–participants were taking as many safety precautions as they can,” they explain. Read on to find out 8 places they warn against going even if they are open—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus

1

Eating at a Buffet—Risky

variety food buffet
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Buffets used to be incredibly popular eating establishments. However, over the last decade they have been slowly diminishing as concerns about hygiene and the spreading of germs have surfaced. Over the course of the pandemic, most establishments have done away with their salad bars and buffets for good reason—COVID-19 can be spread via infected droplets, that can travel from a person and into food. If you do happen to come across a buffet, it is probably best to avoid it to stay on the safe side. 

2

Working Out at a Gym—Risky

Group of people doing fitness in a gym wearing a mask, coronavirus concept
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There has been quite a bit of controversy about whether working out in gyms during the pandemic is a good idea. While exercise is an important component of health—both mental and physical—most experts share the concern that shared workout spaces provide the perfect type of situation for the virus to spread. For one, social distancing can be tricky in a gym, making it possible for direct person-to-person transmission. Additionally, if equipment isn’t properly disinfected between every use and people fail to practice recommended hand hygiene, the virus could also live on surfaces and spread that way. 

3

Going to an Amusement Park—Risky

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Amusement parks are great fun for the entire family, but according to the Texas Medical Association, they are pretty risky for COVID-19 spread. Obviously, the degree of riskiness depends on various factors, including whether they are indoor or outside. Regardless, before you go, make sure they are following the recommended COVID protocol, requiring masks, limiting the number of guests, and making sure common spaces—including lines—maintain social distancing. 

4

Going to a Movie Theater—Risky

People in cinema with protection mask keeping distance away to avoid physical contact
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Movie theaters were one of the first types of establishments to shut down during the pandemic, as they check off many of the “danger zone” boxes seeing as though they are generally indoor, involve a large group of people in a small space, and shared surfaces. A less risky way to see a movie? Head to a drive in or take advantage of a theater’s “private showing” policies, where you can rent out the entire theater for your family. The AMC chain offers private shows as low as $99. 

5

Attending a Large Music Concert—Very Risky

Since March 2020, there have been very opportunities to take in live music in a group setting. Unfortunately, any time a large number of people congregate, there is ample opportunity for a super spreader event. 

6

Going to a Sports Stadium—Very Risky

Woman standing and cheering at a baseball game
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Similar to large music concerts, sports stadiums are also very risky for COVID transmission. Stadiums that are offering fans an opportunity to cheer on their favorite team are doing so in a much more limited fashion, only allowing a specific number of people, maintaining social distancing, and requiring the use of face masks. 

7

Attending a Large Religious Service—Very Risky

Group of prayers in Covid times
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While religion is an important part of life for millions of Americans, worshipping in a group setting is one of the most dangerous activities according to experts. This is due to shared surfaces, the likelihood of expressing virus particles via singing, shouting, and talking, and the close proximity of worshippers. In fact, these types of large religious services have been linked to a number of super spreader events and the deaths of many people. 

8

Going to a Bar—Very Risky

People cheering with beer in bar.
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Time and again, health experts—including Dr. Anthony Fauci—has warned that bars are incredibly conducive to COVID-19 spread. In addition to social distancing being nearly impossible in these types of settings, most people aren’t wearing masks in bars because they are drinking—making it incredibly easy for the virus to spread. 

RELATED: If You Feel This, You May Have Already Had COVID, Says Dr. Fauci

9

How to Stay Safe No Matter Where You Live

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Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this surge, no matter where you live—wear a face mask, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.