There is no doubt that if you have been infected with the new coronavirus or if you have symptoms of the COVID-19 disease, you should not leave your home unless otherwise indicated. But if you have no symptoms or reasons to believe you have been exposed, you don’t have to shut yourself up at home.
In the United States and around the world, health authorities advise people to practice “social distancing” to contain the spread of the virus by staying about a meter away from each other, skipping large social gatherings and working from home (if possible). Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the ban on gatherings of over 500 people in New York state on Thursday.
These policies can help slow the spread of the virus by reducing person-to-person contact, but isolation for prolonged periods could trigger high levels of depression and anxiety.
While people are looking for ways to safely get out of their homes, here are some things to do and not to venture out in public, and precautions you can take to limit the risk of contracting COVID-19.
(Before proceeding, you may want to read some of the myths and facts of COVID-19. Also, if you need to self-isolate or self-quarantine, here are some helpful tips.)
Should you go to the gym or yoga class?
The gym is an escape from stress and anxiety for millions of people every day. But an emerging source of anxiety is setting foot in that same place.
Sweat alone cannot transmit COVID-19, Dr told the New York Times. David Thomas, professor of medicine and director of the infectious diseases division of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
What it can, however, are certain surfaces.
According to some estimates, coronavirus can live on metal, glass and plastic surfaces for up to nine days. And this could include free weights, treadmills and other sports equipment.
Fitness centers nationwide are stepping up cleaning efforts by disinfecting mats and equipment more frequently.
305 Fitness, a Zumba chain that presents a DJ during classes in New York, Washington, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, sent an email on March 3 encouraging customers to call their studies early if they don’t hear well, promising to be “extremely flexible in returning class credits and waiving late cancellation / no-show fees.”
The gym chain stopped using any equipment such as weights and mats during cardio classes, said Sam Karshenboym, chief operating officer at 305 Fitness. Cleaning staff are disinfecting changing rooms, door handles and other contact points more frequently.
“We also ask customers to exchange punch pumps and five highs with instructors before class for a kick in Charleston or a bump on the butt,” said the gym’s message to the customers.
305 Fitness has also halved the size of its classes. In New York City it has classes limited to around 15 people, said Karshenboym. “We have also introduced home cardio classes, so customers can still get a piece of 305 [even] if they can’t get to the studio. ”
That said, it might be a good idea to bring your gear to the classes that require it. It’s also worth calling ahead and asking which products your fitness center uses to disinfect surfaces. The Environmental Protection Agency has a list of over 300 cleaning products that it deems effective as coronavirus fighters.
It may also be safer to avoid tight classes or attend the gym during off-peak hours, as the virus spreads more easily among people who are within about 6 feet of each other, according to the U.S. Centers for disease control and prevention.
On Saturday, 305 Fitness informed customers via email that it would temporarily close all locations for two weeks. “The 305 leadership is giving up on salaries so we can better support our team of instructors, DJs and managers in this difficult time,” said an email. “Social distancing is an act of solidarity right now. If we take preventative measures in advance, we can get back on our feet faster. “
Should you go to the cinema?
In China, where the virus originated, the government ordered the closure of 70,000 cinemas in the nation. In Italy, where there were over 21,000 cases of coronavirus on Saturday afternoon, practically all companies have closed. The same happened in France, where there were over 3,600 cases on Saturday afternoon. Before cinemas closed in France, only 50% of capacity was allowed, according to CNBC.
Cinemas in the United States may temporarily close in the coming days, a source described as familiar with the issue reportedly reported in the Wall Street Journal.
Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the World Health Organization who studied COVID-19 for two weeks in China, found that the virus spread more easily to people living with someone who had COVID- 19 than through common dissemination. However, when common diffusion occurs, cinemas and public transportation are the primary places of transmission of viruses, he told STAT News.
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, a cinema chain where viewers can eat and drink during the show with 37 locations in the United States, told customers via email that it was “sanitizing seat armrests, cup holders and tables during cleaning of the theater before each show “. Staff are required to wear latex gloves when serving customers and cleaning facilities.
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In California, public meetings are limited to 250 people. The Alamo theater in New Mission, California is the only location in the state that can hold more than 250 people. Alamo “has disabled seat sections” in that theater, Alamo’s CEO and founder, Tim League, said in a note to customers posted online.
“In addition, we are demanding that all parties leave an empty seat between their group and the other parties,” said League. “If you don’t have an empty seat, you can see a manager who can move you to one of the empty sections.”
The chain declined to comment further on additional precautions taken in handling food.
Should you take the subway?
People who travel by public transport are more at risk of contracting an acute respiratory infection than people who cycle, walk or drive their cars. This is according to a 2011 study published in the BMC Infectious Diseases, a peer-reviewed medical journal on infectious diseases.
The study found a significant connection between acquiring an acute respiratory infection and traveling by bus or train five days before the onset of symptoms.
Having said that, not all workers are able to work from home and many who will not be able to use public transport to go to work. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which serves 8 million customers a day in the greater New York City area, said employees disinfect trains, subways and buses twice a day.
“Good hygiene remains the best defense against COVID-19,” said Patrick Warren, MTA’s security officer. “The MTA has continued its disinfection efforts, ensuring that those common contact points in stations, trains and buses are disinfected. We also ask our customers to double their hygiene efforts, to stay at home in case of illness and to follow the messages we have in our stations. “
Mayor Bill de Blasio advised New Yorkers to plan “to have extra travel time on your daily journey”, adding that “if the train that stops is too full, move to another car or wait to catch the next one. If you can, go by bike or walk to go to work. “
Should you have a hairstyle or a face?
Hair and nail salons and barbers are all linked to high risks of various types of infections, according to research from the American College of Gastroenterology.
Even before COVID-19 started to spread, studies show an increased likelihood of contracting a fungal or skin infection from tools such as nail clippers, scissors and brushes that are not discarded after use.
In response to the pandemic, Sephora
he informed customers that he would stop all in-store beauty services, including skin care and makeup applications. Ulta Beauty Inc.
he has not suspended these services in all stores, but said he encourages customers to reschedule appointments, especially if they are not feeling well.
Both companies have declined to comment on any additional precautions they are taking right now.
A New York City-based barber shop, Otis & Finn, sent an email to customers informing them that they could cancel any appointment at any time. “According to our policy, barbers always wash their hands after each customer and we encourage our customers to feel free to also use the sinks and soaps in the common area of the shop to wash their hands (in addition to the soaps made available in the bathroom), “says the email.
Shawn Dixon, owner of all three Otis & Finn locations, said: “We were really prepared for this [coronavirus] because we attach great value to the cleanliness of our shop at all times. “He added that” even to be a barber you need to pass health and safety tests on hygiene, which is useful because they already know how to clean properly “.
Dixon added that he has always encouraged barbers to avoid working when they are not feeling well.
“Some barber shops think that a dirty place is part of the culture, but it has never been this way for us,” said Dixon. He said he can recall receiving only two calls this week from customers asking for the cleaning measures that barbers are taking. Most customers “mainly ask if we are open”.
Is it safe to eat out in a restaurant?
Coronavirus is not a food-borne disease, said food safety expert Benjamin Chapman, a professor at North Carolina State University. This means that someone cannot transmit the coronavirus by touching the pizza crust.
“The risk is food settings,” said Chapman. “If someone was sick, walked into a store and coughed on the handles of self-service buffet utensils and then touched your face, you could get coronavirus.” Because of this risk, it is increasingly important to be aware of what is touched in these settings and be sure to wash your hands before eating.
Chapman said he’ll go to all the same restaurants he went to before the coronavirus novel that causes COVID-19 to start spreading in the United States, he is more careful about touching salt shakers and menus.
Amid the epidemic, some people are avoiding going to restaurants and restaurants that they normally visit and instead stock up on non-perishable foods such as oat milk and rely more on the Amazon
and other delivery services.
This hurts small businesses like Sushirrito, a sushi burrito chain with six locations in San Francisco. Although Peter Yen, founder and CEO of Sushirrito, started offering a 20% discount on delivery orders last week, he said business was so slow that it may have to temporarily close its stores.
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For the time being, all six Sushirrito stores remain open. His staff was offered a refresher course on maintaining sanitary conditions and added more hand sanitizer that customers can use.
“First, we had great success when all the big tech companies started asking employees to work from home, [and] then all the conferences were canceled, which reduced tourism, therefore eliminated a large source of sales, “Yen told MarketWatch.” My company relies on pedestrian traffic and catering for large offices, and since everything what has died we have decided to concentrate only on the deliveries “.
“Hungry and stuck in the house?” read the subject of a recent email sent by Sushirrito to customers. “We know that many of you work from home or curl up in the office, so we want to continue being there for you with our food delivery service. For the month of March, get a 20% discount on deliveries to make sure you are well fed! “
“Part of me feels like it’s a bit of an overreaction,” Yen said of the response to the outbreak. He would like, he said, that people would make a greater effort to support their local businesses.