These winter activities are the highest risk for getting COVID-19

Experts say that people can have fun both indoors and outdoors over the winter while staying safe during the pandemic, WTVD reported.

“Winter months do make it harder with the weather to plan activities that are safe,” said Dr. Lisa Pickett, chief medical officer of Duke University Hospital. “We’re fortunate that we don’t have the extreme range of cold, so any activity that could be done outside would be ideal.”

Pickett advises that if you have to be indoors, to think about ways to make activities safer, like wearing a mask or sitting further apart.

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Skiing or a ski resort vacation: Low Risk

Pickett said skiing could be low risk for COVID-19 transmission because typically people are not close together.

“You just have to think about how you travel there, and if it’s with people you don’t live with, travel separately or sit far apart in the same car with masks on and windows tipped down,” Pickett said. “And once there, eating needs to be apart or at different times.”

She also advised only staying in a room with people who live in your immediate household and checking in with your hotel or guest house host ahead of time to understand how they are cleaning rooms and common areas.

Indoor ice skating: Low Risk

Pickett said ice skating could be a safe activity from a COVID standpoint if rinks are not overcrowded.

“And as you enter and exit, of course, when you’re waiting to pay and things like that, wearing your mask and standing six feet apart and cleaning your hands after touching the place to pay or your shoes,” Pickett said.

Sledding with neighbors and friends: Low Risk

“I think you talk to your neighbors about ways to do that safely,” Pickett said. “It can definitely be done,” Pickett said. She advised wearing a mask at all times and standing as far apart as possible from others.

Valentine’s date night: Low/Medium Risk

The safest option is to get takeout from your favorite restaurant and take it on a hike for a different kind of eating ambiance, Pickett said. “But some people do want that romantic evening meal, and I think you can call ahead to that restaurant that you love to go to and ask how they’re planning this,” Pickett said.

She advised asking whether tables are more than six feet apart, if servers wear masks and if they have best practices in place to keep the spread of COVID-19 low.

“Everyone has to look at what their health risk is, and if they’re really vulnerable, this may not be the time for that, but if they’re healthier and think this is a reasonable risk, I think there’s some ways to go about that,” Pickett said.

Going to the movies: Medium Risk Though movie theatres are open to 30% capacity in North Carolina, Pickett advised checking ahead to make sure people are being seated far apart and masks are enforced. She added that renting out a full screen for friends and family could make the situation safer, because then you would know everyone in the room and could make sure safety protocols are being followed.

Pickett said drive-in movies are safer.

Working out in a Gym: Medium Risk

Pickett said gyms could be a moderate risk activity if people wear masks at all times, which is required through the governor’s executive order.

“I think the practices of your gym are going to be really important,” Pickett said. “If you have a good understanding of the gym that you’re going to, and they space people out and everyone wears their mask--and they hold people accountable to that--and clean down the devices that might be touched in between, that would be a moderate risk activity.”

She added that everyone should measure their own vulnerability and take into account their own health risks.

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Bonfires: Medium Risk

Pickett said a bonfire night could be safe if everyone wears masks and stays at least six feet apart.

She added that masks should only be removed to take a quick sip of a beverage or a bite of a s’more. March Madness parties: Medium/High Risk

“If you really want to get together with a lot of people, it’s just going to have to be virtual or some way outside,” Pickett said.

She said watching games indoors with one other family could be a moderate risk, as long as both families sit on opposite sides of the room and keep their masks on.

Playing board games: High Risk

Pickett advised playing virtual games with friends over video chat instead of in person.

“I think board games are hard with people outside your home because you simply have to be really close together for a really prolonged period of time,” Pickett said.

If you want to gather in person, you could play an electronic game where people can spread out on opposite sides of a room or different ends of a home, she said.

Indoor Sports: High Risk

Pickett advised playing sports, such as basketball or football, outside as much as possible.

“I wouldn’t say no, but certainly no one in a higher risk category should be doing something so close together with people they don’t live with,” Pickett said.

If you do choose to play indoor sports, wear a mask and wash hands or use hand sanitizer after touching common surfaces or borrowed shoes used while bowling.

Indoor Fitness Classes: High Risk

Pickett said she would advise against indoor fitness classes like yoga or kickboxing for now.

“I’m a little concerned about people being indoors because if the space is not very large, you probably can’t be far enough away from each other,” Pickett said.

She added that people probably need to be further apart than six feet if they are breathing heavily in a contained space. Pickett suggested trying outdoor fitness classes where available, despite the cold, adding that could be much safer.

Other activities

She added that she’s been enjoying Zoom and FaceTime hangouts with friends and family. “I think there are lots of ways to be connected, and knowing that this is going to be a year of transitions, and by the end of this year I hope we’re in a much different place,” Pickett said.