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Here’s how to limit your risk of contracting coronavirus while out

In this May 29 file photo, Jessica Ciaramitaro, Daryn Feenstra, and Nicholas Soriano mix drinks while wearing face masks at the bar at San Pedro Brewing Company in the San Pedro area of Los Angeles.Ashley Landis/Associated Press

As states begin to reopen after a three-month shutdown that brought much of routine life to a halt, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released tips on how to reduce risk of coronavirus infection for those trying to get back to some semblance of normalcy.

The CDC’s director, Dr. Robert Redfield, said the new guidelines are “common sense suggestions,” not mandates. It’s up to state or local governments to reimpose stricter measures if new outbreaks occur.

Here’s what health experts recommend when going to eat at a restaurant, hosting gatherings, going to the gym, traveling, and more.


Going out to a restaurant

  • Wear a cloth face covering as much as possible when not eating
  • Maintain a social distance of 6 feet or more when in an entryway, hallway, or waiting area, or when dining with people who don’t live with you
  • Wash your hands when you arrive at the restaurant and when you leave. If you’re not able to wash your hands at a sink, use hand sanitizer
  • Choose food and drink options that are not self-serve to avoid using shared serving utensils
  • Call ahead and ask if staff are wearing face coverings

Going to the gym

  • Try to make reservations and check-in online when possible
  • Seek out facilities where you can exercise outdoors or gyms that provide virtual training sessions
  • Use hand sanitizer before using workout machines and wipe down equipment with disinfecting wipes
  • Don’t share equipment, like resistance bands and weightlifting belts, that can’t be cleaned between uses
  • Limit attending indoor group training sessions. If you do go to a group class inside, try to maintain as much social distance as possible and wear a face covering if it doesn’t interfere with your workout. Try to open the windows to increase airflow
  • Don’t hug, shake hands, or bump elbows with others
  • Wear a cloth face covering when interacting with people

Going on vacation

  • Book reservations and check in online, and use a mobile room key and contactless payment, if possible
  • Wear a cloth face covering in the lobby and other common areas
  • Consider taking the stairs, or wait to use the elevator until you can ride alone or with other people from your household
  • Request contactless delivery for room service orders
  • Try to minimize being in areas that may lead to close contact (within 6 feet) with others, like patios, lounging areas, spas, salons, and fitness areas
  • Ask about the hotel’s policies for cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and items like pens, light switches, remote controls, elevator buttons, and phones
  • Refer to the CDC’s tips for traveling amid the coronavirus pandemic and cleaning your hotel room or lodgings

Having friends and family over

  • Try to host your get-together outdoors. If it’s not possible to be outside, make sure the space is well-ventilated by opening windows
  • Minimize close contact by verbally greetings guests instead of hugging, shaking hands, or bumping elbows
  • Wear a face covering when less than 6 feet apart from people or if you’re indoors
  • Wash your hands (or use hand sanitizer if you’re not able to access soap and water) when arriving and leaving the gathering. Provide single-use towels or napkins for drying hands so guests don’t share a towel
  • Arrange seating to allow for 6 feet of space. Those who live together don’t need to be 6 feet apart
  • Encourage guests to bring their own food and drinks
  • If you plan to serve food, designate one person who serves everyone to avoid multiple people touching serving utensils. If there are sharable items, like condiments, identify one person to serve them, too, or use single-use options, if possible
  • Wash and sanitize reusable items like napkins and tablecloths after the event
  • Ask guests to wash their hands before serving or eating food
  • Use gloves when taking out the trash and wash your hands after taking off the gloves
  • Provide cleaning supplies so guests can wipe down surfaces before they leave
  • Keep a list of attendees in case of future contact tracing

Going to a library

  • Use online reservations and check-out systems, if possible
  • Choose using a digital reader, like an iPad or a Kindle, when possible, instead of printed materials
  • Request curbside pick-up, if available. Wear a cloth face covering during exchanges
  • Wash your hands before and after exchanges
  • Clean and disinfect electronics, like laptops or iPads, and materials that are in plastic coverings, like CDs and DVDs during returns and exchanges

Getting your nails done

  • Call in advance to book an appointment to avoid waiting next to others. If you have to wait, maintain 6 feet of social distance
  • Wear a cloth face covering at all times while inside
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before receiving your treatment and after touching common surfaces like counters, doorknobs, and faucets
  • Use cashless payment, if possible
  • Try to use a no-touch trash can
  • Wait in your car or outside until the salon can contact you over the phone when it’s your turn, if the salon offers that service

Going to the bank

  • Use drive-through banking services, ATMs, or mobile banking apps for routine transactions that don’t require face-to-face help
  • Wear a cloth face covering when doing in-person exchanges, and try to stay 6 feet apart from others
  • Use hand sanitizer after withdrawing or depositing money or visiting an ATM, and wash your hands thoroughly when you get home

What items to keep on you

The CDC recommends everyone keep on hand a cloth face covering, tissues, and hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.

Staying safe during events

The CDC also released guidance for organizing and attending large gatherings, like concerts, sporting events, and political rallies. The guidelines come as people across the country are participating in protests against police brutality and racial injustice that can draw tens of thousands of people.

Public health officials say the “highest risk” of COVID-19 spread is at “large in-person gatherings where it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and attendees travel from outside the local area.”

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Amanda Kaufman can be reached at Follow her @amandakauf1.