Despite warnings that it’s too soon to lift the lockdown, Georgia, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Vermont are all racing to re-open, calling an end to some of the stay-at-home orders that have come with the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing and quarantine guidelines appear to be working to flatten the curve, but many medical experts say it’s too soon to declare victory.
If you’re equally ready to break free—coronavirus be damned—be clear there are several places you should avoid like the, well, plague. Here’s our list of the top eight:
- Gyms. The government says you can return to the gym to get your workout on, as long as you follow social distancing rules. We say, “Ew!” We can’t think of a public place more germy and covered in bodily fluids than a gym. Your facility probably provides disinfectant to wipe down equipment and machines, and most fellow gym rats surely mean well, but how often in the past have you gripped a grimy handle bar or stretched out on a sweaty mat? Why chance it? Continue to take your long walk around your neighborhood.
- Hospitals. We’ve got four words for you: epicenter of the coronavirus. Hospitals have become some of the most concentrated areas of COVID-19. In fact, many medical professionals believe increased concentration of the contagion puts folks who visit hospitals at much greater risk of contracting the disease. Continue to reschedule maintenance health appointments and elective surgery, or chat with your physician via Zoom.
- Movie theaters. Most large movie chains have no plans to open their doors yet, and all the spring and summer blockbusters have had their release dates delayed until later in the year. But if you manage to find an independent venue showing old romantic comedies, do you really want to sit in a confined space with people who could be asymptomatic carriers? Even if the facility limits patrons so you can maintain six-foot spacing, do you know who sat in your seat at an earlier showtime? Amazon Prime, Hulu and Netflix in the privacy of your own home is a much less risky bet.
- Airports. Large crowds, common surfaces (think: bins at security for your laptop and keys) and tray tables on the airplanes crawl with other people’s germs. Airline travel is at a record low, and airports have fewer frequent flyers, but we don’t recommend taking a flight unless you have no choice.
- Nail salons. We can’t think of how you get a mani or pedi while maintaining six-foot spacing, so the smart move is to remove your jacked up gel nails yourself.
- Hair salons/Barbershops. See nail salons and take solace in the fact that the beard gang has been all the rage for a while now. You fit right in. Split ends got your feeling some kinda way? Us, too! At least you are not alone. And you know what they say: Misery loves company.
- Mass transit. Buses and trains have remained a challenge throughout the lockdown because for many, especially essential workers in cities, public transit is the go-to transportation for commuters. If you have to take public transit, mask up, glove up, and maintain a safe social distance from others as much as you can.
- Playgrounds. Children might contract coronavirus at lower rates than adults, but anywhere the dears congregate is likely rife with runny noses and grubby hands. Play in your backyard or take a family spin on a neighborhood walking path.
If you must go out, remember to wear a mask and wash your hands in warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds as soon as you return home. And follow social distancing guidelines, staying six feet away from others who have broke free from the lockdown.