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Jan 11, 2022
5 min read

COVID-safe activities

The pandemic shouldn’t be a showstopper when it comes to spending time outside the house. There are plenty of activities you can take part in that let you have fun with low risk of catching COVID-19.

Important

Information about the novel coronavirus (the virus that causes COVID-19) is constantly evolving. We will refresh our novel coronavirus content periodically based on newly published peer-reviewed findings to which we have access. For the most reliable and up-to-date information, please visit the CDC website or the WHO’s advice for the public.

Whether your idea of fun is Comic-Con, a Backstreet Boys concert, or the Running of the Bulls, the coronavirus pandemic may have left you a little out of luck. These, along with thousands of other events, were canceled as the coronavirus pandemic unfolded and as the various variant waves rolled in. And while you might not have been too upset about missing cousin Greg’s annual magic show at Thanksgiving dinner, at some point, especially during the peak of lockdowns early on, we were all going stir crazy.

Luckily there are plenty of activities you can do to stay sane — while staying safe — during COVID-19. 

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Best outdoor activities during COVID-19

Outdoor activities are generally safer because the constant movement of air disperses the respiratory droplets that carry coronavirus particles. When you’re outdoors, your risk of exposure is significantly lower, which is why the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends spending time outdoors when possible.

Fully vaccinated people can safely enjoy outdoor activities without wearing a mask, unless it’s crowded or you’ll be in close contact with people who aren’t vaccinated. People who are immuno-compromised or unvaccinated, however, should still wear a mask (CDC-a, 2021).

Whether your idea of fun is working on your fitness, exploring the great outdoors, or chilling out anywhere besides your own four walls, here are some COVID-safe activities for you to enjoy:

  • Going for a walk, run, or hike in a nearby park or trail
  • Biking or rollerblading around town
  • Hunting and fishing
  • Golfing
  • Gardening
  • Ice skating, snowboarding or sledding
  • Renting a boat or kayak on a sunny afternoon
  • Attending a farmers market or street fair
  • Going to a beach or swimming pool
  • Having a picnic or barbecue at a neighborhood park
  • Outdoor dining at a restaurant
  • Watching a drive-in movie
  • Going on a road trip or taking a long drive
  • Camping
  • Window shopping at an outdoor mall
  • Attending an outdoor sporting event

Best kid-friendly activities during COVID

Being cooped up at home can be tough on kids — and their parents. If your child is immuno-compromised or too young for the vaccine, here are a few activities you can safely enjoy together at home or out and about.

Activities to enjoy at home

  • Cooking or baking together
  • Camping in the backyard or inside your house
  • Crafting or building something together outside
  • Hosting a themed day like they have at school, but the whole family participates (e.g. Talk Like a Pirate Day, Opposite Day, Crazy Hair Day)
  • Playing a game of hide-and-seek outside, or enjoying a backyard picnic with a board game

Out and about

  • Biking or walking as a family
  • Exploring a park or nearby trail
  • Creating a sidewalk chalk masterpiece or doing other art activities outdoors 
  • Having story time at your neighborhood park
  • Going on a nature scavenger hunt
  • Looking at the stars

Are playdates okay?

Indoor hangouts are fine for vaccinated teens and children ages five years and up. But if your child is not fully vaccinated or will be around other people who aren’t, recommend they wear a face mask or stick to outdoor activities. The CDC also recommends continuing to wear a mask indoors if anyone in your household is immuno-compromised or if you have young children who can’t get vaccinated yet (CDC-b, 2021). You may also want to limit outdoor play dates to families in your COVID bubble. 

Low-risk activities during COVID

Whether an activity is low-risk for you will depend on your personal risk tolerance and your living situation. If one of your family members is immunocompromised, for example, an activity that seems low-risk for someone else may be high-risk for you. 

In general, however, there are a few rules of thumb you can follow to gauge the risk of a particular activity. You’re less likely to be exposed to COVID-19 if an activity is outdoors, involves a lower number of people, and enables physical distancing with people outside your household (CDC-a, 2021). 

Low-risk activities include (CDC-a, 2021):

  • Outdoor activities that you enjoy alone or with a small number of people who either live with your or are vaccinated, like a picnic at a park
  • Outdoor activities that you enjoy with a group of people, so long as you can stand six feet away from them, like an outdoor fitness class
  • Eating outdoors at a restaurant where the tables are spread six feet apart

High-risk activities during COVID

As you might guess, high-risk activities are ones that take place indoors and make social distancing difficult. The more people there are, particularly those outside your household, the riskier it is — especially if you’ll be around those people for a prolonged period of time. Higher-risk activities include (CDC-a, 2021):

  • Air travel
  • Attending religious services indoors 
  • Eating or drinking indoors at a bar or restaurant
  • Seeing a movie or performance at an indoor theater
  • Going to a salon or spa
  • Hanging out indoors with people outside your household who aren’t wearing masks or are unvaccinated
  • Shopping
  • Going to the gym
  • Using public transportation
  • Playgrounds
  • Indoor fitness classes 
  • Indoor day camps
  • Indoor sporting events
  • Concerts and festivals
  • Parades
  • Weddings
  • Large parties

While health officials agree that these activities are generally riskier, there are tangible steps you can take to reduce your risk of exposure to COVID-19. For example (CDC-a, 2021; CDC-c, 2021): 

  • Getting vaccinated
  • Wearing a face mask over your nose and mouth
  • Maintaining a physical distance of six feet between yourself and people outside your household
  • Avoiding public places that are crowded or poorly ventilated
  • Going to indoor places like a grocery store at non-peak hours, when they’re less crowded
  • Washing your hands frequently with soap and water, especially after touching shared surfaces like doorknobs
  • Using hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol when handwashing isn’t possible
  • Not touching your face when your hands aren’t washed
  • Staying home if you’re feeling sick

Further, business owners, venue operators, and hosts of these activities can take steps to make these activities safer for guests and attendees. For example, large outdoor gatherings like a sporting event can be made safer if staff enforces social distancing by blocking off seats, and regularly cleans and disinfects frequently touched surfaces (CDC-d, 2021).

COVID-19 should still be taken seriously, but you can feel safer going out and reconnecting with the activities and people you’ve missed these past few years, especially once you are vaccinated. Stay up to date on the latest safety recommendations, assess your personal risk, and do what you can to minimize your exposure. Then, try to have a little fun!

References

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC-a). (2021, August). Participate in Outdoor and Indoor Activities. Retrieved Nov. 10, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/outdoor-activities.html
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC-b). (2021, November). Families with Vaccinated and Unvaccinated Members. Retrieved Nov. 16, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/about-covid-19/caring-for-children/families.html
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC-c). (2021, August). How to Protect Yourself and Others. Retrieved Nov. 10, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC-d). (2021, May). Considerations for Events and Gatherings. Retrieved Nov. 14, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/large-events/considerations-for-events-gatherings.html
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC-e). (2021, October). Considerations for Events and Gatherings. Retrieved Nov. 14, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/gatherings.html
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC-f). (2021, August). Activities, Gatherings & Holidays. Retrieved Nov. 10, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/index.html