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13 places that doctors do not recommend visiting during a pandemic

Even if your favorite establishments reopen during quarantine, COVID-19 still poses a risk. Doctors recommend thinking twice before visiting one of these 13 public places, writes Reader's Digest.

Photo: Shutterstock

“The places with the greatest risk of COVID-19 transmission are in the building and crowded areas,” said Sarah Keith, MD, assistant professor of surgery at Icahn School of Medicine in New York. "Low risk areas are outside where people wear masks and have space for social distancing."

“Summer can be a lot of trouble, especially in places like Florida,” warns Dr. Keith. "Going to the beach with a face mask and plenty of space between visitors is relatively safe, as is a haircut outside when both people are wearing masks."

Neha Vyas, MD, family medicine specialist at the Cleveland, Ohio Clinic, explains: “For some people, I would recommend complete isolation based on their individual risk profile. Another may be worth the risk and go to these places. ”

Bottom line: it’s still important to keep a distance in public places until we get the vaccine. A study in May 2020 by Health Issues showed that where there are no guidelines for social distance, there can be 35 times more cases of COVID-19 than in places where 6-foot distance protocols are used (1,8, XNUMX meters).

So, where do doctors go and do not recommend to us?

Public toilets

If you can avoid public restrooms, this is usually for the best. But if not, then keep clean, says Dr. Vyas.

“If I go anywhere and I absolutely need to use a public toilet, I will be very careful about when it was cleaned,” she says. “I will wash my hands and make sure there are enough paper towels. Before I leave, I wash my hands again. ”


If you can conduct most of your banking transactions electronically, try not to go to this financial institution. Money is one of the dirtiest things we touch. Therefore, to reduce the risk of transmission, it is best to use credit and debit cards rather than bills.

“I try to limit cash,” Dr. Vyas shares his experience. - I think it is better to use a credit card and clear it rather than cash, as the bills are very dirty. If you are dealing with a lot of money, then you should be very careful. "

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Small crowded restaurants

Perhaps the cozy cafe was your favorite place before the pandemic. But for now, you should not go to cramped restaurants.

“Great care should be taken in places where tables are not set at a safe distance,” says Dr. Vyas. "Of course, you can't wear a mask while eating, but I would like to see the kitchen staff and waiters wear them."


If you're anxious to return to your local bar this summer, it's best to wait. Dr. Keith suggests staying away from the covered bars for now. “Bars actually pose a pretty high risk because there are so many surfaces: door handles, countertops, tables. They are often touched and it is difficult, especially in crowded conditions, to disinfect the surface after each client. In addition, when people drink, they are less careful, ”she said.

If you still go to the bar, choose a site on the street and keep a social distance. Be careful with surfaces. If you attend or conduct an event with people, it is better to do this also in the fresh air, in a group of no more than 10 people.


Like most other rooms, Dr. Kate does not recommend going to temples as a closed public place. But if your church can adapt to offer services in safer conditions, you may be able to go.

“A lot of places are really adaptable. For example, the synagogue I go to provides services on the street. There are a limited number of people who can visit it, - the doctor shares his experience. "They are sent a health questionnaire in advance, and everyone must wear a mask."

Find out what your church is offering and keep in mind that any services that require close contact should not be conducted.

Sports clubs

Considering how often and profusely people sweat in gyms, even outside a pandemic it is obvious that this is not the cleanest place. A study in Sports Health: An Interdisciplinary Approach conducted in 2019 showed that up to 25 percent of the surfaces in the gym tested positive for drug-resistant bacteria and influenza pathogens. The good news: when the gyms followed the infection control protocols, they managed to destroy the presence of bacteria from almost all surfaces. But all the halls are different, so you need to weigh all the risks associated with training, and ensure that all surfaces that you touch are disinfected: from the treadmill to the dumbbells.

For those who love sports, Dr. Kate suggests doing this as early as possible.

“I advise my elderly patients to go outside and exercise early in the morning with a mask, as there are fewer people everywhere,” she explains.

On the subject: How not to get coronavirus in the elevator: CDC recommendations

Community Pools

Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims that so far there is no evidence that coronavirus can be transmitted through water, being in the pool is still dangerous.

“Water certainly reduces the risk of COVID-19 transmission, and chlorine lowers a high viral load, but if you're in a tight pool where everyone is standing in shallow water and breathing on top of each other, this is not ideal conditions,” explains Dr. Keith. - I think the pools in New York will not be open this summer. One reason is that there is no way to truly socially distance everyone from each other. "

If you are unable to maintain proper social distance, Dr. Keith and Dr. Vyas recommend not going to the pool just yet. But the beaches are safe enough because it is easier to distance yourself - in general, immersion in water is encouraged.


After several months of quarantine, I want to take advantage of the relaxing spa treatments. But Dr. Kate believes that a lot depends on how long you will be there and what services you choose.

“Fast services like a haircut or a manicure are okay because they require a limited amount of time, and as long as both parties are wearing masks, I think there will be no problem,” she says.

But you should not spend half a day or all day in the spa. You should also avoid saunas and steam rooms.

“High temperatures can create a very Petri dish-like environment,” notes Dr. Keith. "It is also very difficult to sterilize these areas."

Shopping centers

As with bars, shopping malls also have many surfaces that quickly get dirty. Escalator rails, clothing racks, elevator buttons, literally everything in the fitting room are all potential sources of virus transmission that are difficult to disinfect.

"I'm still wary of indoor shopping malls," says Dr. Keith, who so far recommends sticking to shipping or pickup. - I would stick with it as long as possible. It's probably important for us to see this as a long-term lifestyle adjustment until the vaccine arrives, because it's hard to control how often things are cleaned. ”


While many states canceled major field events this summer, doctors do not recommend attending concerts that have not yet been canceled.

“It's best to stay away from concerts and places where people usually gather,” warns Dr. Vyas. “If I see an orderly line, like in a supermarket, and everyone in it is six feet apart, everything will be fine. But if there is just a lot of people, I will try not to go there. "

Bowling lanes

Just think about all the surfaces that people touch during one round of bowling, the doctor draws attention. According to her, from the shoes that you rent to the balls that you touch, there are plenty of opportunities for transfer.

“These places are so difficult to clean between guests and to disinfect everything around! Even air filtration systems can cover COVID-19. ”


They fall on Dr. Keith's forbidden list for the same reason as other places: you are inside, in close proximity to others, and there are tons of surfaces that you can touch. Plus, there are other, safer options for movie entertainment, from streaming services to car cinemas.

Amusement park

Although amusement parks will introduce new rules to prevent virus infection, some of the favorites still open with mandatory reservations.

“Many amusement park rides have areas that cannot be cleaned,” explains Dr. Keith. Therefore, she does not recommend traditional theme park activities, but says car safaris can be a fun and safe alternative.

Where to go: doctor’s office

“People are afraid to visit the doctor's office,” says Dr. Vyas. - We do our best to keep patients safe. We had to get rid of a few chairs in our office to keep you from sitting next to other visitors. We have signs everywhere to keep six feet apart. But people continue to get nervous and refuse medical help. "

If you are worried about the risk of exposure to the virus in your doctor’s office or clinic, but you need an examination or procedure, first find out what precautions are being taken at your medical center instead of just postponing the visit.

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