Personal and Social Activities
What you need to know
- Correctly and consistently wear a mask that completely covers your nose and mouth
- Stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live with you
- Avoid crowds
- Avoid poorly ventilated indoor spaces
- Stay home when you are sick
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (or use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol)
- Get vaccinated when the vaccine is available to you
- Get tested if you have signs or symptoms of COVID-19, or if you think you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19
- Stay home if sick.
- Wear masks in public settings, at events and gatherings, and anywhere they will be around other people.
- Effective February 2, 2021, masks are required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
- Use social distancing (stay at least 6 feet away from others).
- Before you go, call and ask what extra prevention strategies they are using, like requiring staff to wear masks.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you get home.
Visiting a restaurant or bar
The COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful and isolating for many people. Many go to restaurants and bars to enjoy a meal without having to cook, to connect with friends and family, and to support businesses that are an important part of many communities.
However, visiting bars and restaurants can increase your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19.
Why Visiting Restaurants and Bars May Increase Risk
In a recent study, scientists found that adults with positive COVID-19 test results were twice as likely to have reported dining at a restaurant than those with negative COVID-19 test results.1 There are many factors that may explain why going to restaurants and bars increases your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19:
- People from different households are gathering in the same space.
- Eating and drinking requires the removal of a mask.
- If eating indoors, ventilation flow in restaurants and bars can cause droplets to spread at distances greater than 6 feet.2 Poor ventilation can also increase risk as it may cause the virus to accumulate in the air.
- Physical distancing of at least 6 feet is often difficult to maintain in restaurants and bars.
- People need to talk louder in restaurants and bars to hear one another. This can contribute to the production of more virus aerosols.
- Use of alcohol may alter judgment and make it more difficult for people to practice COVID-19 safety measures.
While the safest way to enjoy and support restaurants and bars is to take out food and eat it at home with people who live with you, there are ways that you can go to a restaurant and bar and still reduce your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19.
Check the restaurant’s or bar’s COVID-19 prevention practices before you go
- Check if outdoor seating is available and if options allow groups to be at least 6 feet apart from one another. If a tent is set-up outdoors, make sure that at least one side is open or rolled up. An enclosed tent is like eating indoors.
- Avoid busy times of day or night. It’s safest to visit when fewer people are at the restaurant or bar.
- Check the restaurant or bar’s website and social media to see if you feel comfortable with their COVID-19 safety guidelines. Guidelines should require both staff and patrons to wear masks while not eating or drinking. Check if menus are available online or via app for safer ordering. Call if the posted information is unclear or if you have questions.
- Find out if valet parking is required or if you can self-park. If valet is the only option, it’s best to leave your windows open and let your car air out for at least 15 minutes after the valet returns your car to you.
Take steps to protect yourself at the restaurant or bar
- Eat outdoors, if possible. You are less likely to get or spread COVID-19 during outdoor activities. Look for seating options that are outside and have proper ventilation of outdoor air, such as tents that have open doors or rolled up sides.
- Wear masks at all times, both indoors and outdoors, except when you are actively eating or drinking. Masks help protect both you and those around you.
- Avoid crowds and sit at tables spaced at least 6 feet apart from people you don’t live with, both indoors and outdoors. If you are standing, stay at least 6 feet apart from those who do not live with you.
- Limit alcohol consumption. Consuming alcohol may make you less likely to follow COVID-19 safety measures.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before eating and when exiting the restaurant or bar. If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Ask for individual condiment and salt and pepper packets, as the condiments on the table may not be cleaned between patrons.
- Minimize the time you spend in the restaurant or bar. The longer you stay, the more you increase your risk
1 Fisher KA, Tenforde MW, Feldstein LR, et al. Community and Close Contact Exposures Associated with COVID-19 Among Symptomatic Adults ≥18 Years in 11 Outpatient Health Care Facilities — United States, July 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:1258–1264. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6936a5external icon.
2 Kwon K-S, Park J-I, Park YJ, et al. Evidence of Long-Distance Droplet Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 by Direct Air Flow in a Restaurant in Korea. J Korean Med Sci 2020;35(46):e415. https://doi.org/10.3346/jkms.2020.35.e415external icon.
Hosting gatherings or cook-outs
Remind guests to stay home if they are sick
- Remind invited guests to stay home if they have been exposed to COVID-19 in the last 14 days or are showing COVID-19 symptoms. Anyone who has had close contact with a person who has COVID-19 should also stay home and monitor their health. Invited guests who live with those at higher risk should also consider the potential risk to their loved ones.
- Consider keeping a list of guests who attended for potential future contact tracing needs.
Encourage social distancing
- Host your gathering outdoors, when possible. If this is not feasible, make sure the room or space is well-ventilated (for example, open a window).
- Arrange tables and chairs to allow for social distancing. People from the same household can be in groups together and don’t need to be 6 feet apart – just 6 feet away from other families.
- If planning activities for adults and/or kids, consider those where social distancing can be maintained, like sidewalk chalk art or frisbee.
- When guests arrive, minimize gestures that promote close contact. For example, don’t shake hands, do elbow bumps, or give hugs. Instead wave and verbally greet them.
- Wear masks when less than 6 feet apart from people or indoors.
- Consider providing masks for guests or asking them to bring their own.
Clean hands often
- Consider providing hand sanitizer in addition to clearly marked hand washing areas.
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds when entering and exiting social gatherings. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
- Make sure there is adequate soap or hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol available in the restrooms and encourage guests not to form a line at the door. Consider also providing cleaning supplies that allow guests to wipe down surfaces before they leave.
- Remind guests to wash their hands before serving or eating food.
- Use single-use hand towels or paper towels for drying hands so guests do not share a towel.
Limit the number of people handling or serving food
- Encourage guests to bring their own food and drinks.
- Limit people going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen or around the grill, if possible.
- If serving any food, consider identifying one person to serve all food so that multiple people are not handling the serving utensils.
- Use single-use options or identify one person to serve sharable items, like salad dressings, food containers, and condiments, so that multiple people are not handling the items.
Limit contact with commonly touched surfaces or shared items
- Use touchless garbage cans or pails.
- Use gloves when removing garbage bags or handling and disposing of trash. Wash hands after removing gloves.
- Clean high-touch surfaces and objects regularly (for example, daily or after each use) and after you have visitors in your home.
- Focus on high-touch surfaces and objects (doorknobs, tables, handles, light switches, phones, remote controls, and countertops).
- Clean other surfaces in your home when they are visibly dirty or as needed. Clean them more frequently if people in your household are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19. Disinfect if certain conditions apply.
- Clean surfaces using a product suitable for each surface, following instructions on the product label.
Attending an event or gathering
Prepare before you go:
- Stay home if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 (symptoms of COVID-19) , if you are waiting for COVID-19 test results, or may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.
- Check with the organizer or event venue for updated information about any COVID-19 safety guidelines and if they have steps in place to prevent the spread of the virus.
- Prioritize attending outdoor activities over indoor activities and stay within your local area as much as possible.
- Bring supplies to help you and others stay healthy—for example, masks (bring extra), hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, and drinking water.
Use social distancing and limit physical contact
- Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet or more from people who don’t live in your household. Be particularly mindful in areas where it may harder to keep this distance, such as check-in areas, parking lots, and routes of entry and exit.
- Select seating or determine where to stand based on the ability to keep 6 feet of space from people who don’t live in your household, including if you will be eating or drinking.
- Arrive to the event early or at off-peak times to avoid crowding and congested areas.
- Avoid using restroom facilities or concession areas at high traffic times, such as intermission, half-time, or immediately at the end of the event.
- Wear a mask when interacting with other people to minimize the risk of transmitting the virus.
- Wearing masks is most important when social distancing is difficult.
- Masks are strongly encouraged in settings where individuals might raise their voices, such as shouting, chanting, or singing.
Limit contact with commonly touched surfaces or shared items
- Use touchless garbage cans or pails and cashless payment options when possible. Otherwise, exchange cash or card by placing payment in a receipt tray, if available, or on the counter.
- Avoid any self-serve food or drink options, such as buffets, salad bars, and condiment or drink stations. Use grab-and-go meal options, if available.
- Use disposable food service items including utensils and dishes, if available.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer immediately before eating food or after touching any common surfaces like hand railings, payment kiosks, door handles, and toilets.
Using Gyms, Fitness Centers, or Studios
Exercising and physical activity are important for physical and mental health and should be continued for healthy living, especially during the coronavirus crisis. However, it is necessary to take precautions to reduce exposure to and transmission of COVID-19. The main way by which people are infected with COVID-19 is through exposure to respiratory droplets carrying infectious virus. COVID-19 has been shown to spread at gyms, fitness classes, and studios.
Considerations for gyms, fitness centers, and studios
There are multiple factors that increase the risk of COVID-19 spread in gyms, fitness centers, and studios (dance, karate, spin, etc.). There are ways to reduce this risk:
- Proximity: maintain at least 6 feet of separation (about 2 arm lengths) and avoid close contact with other people.
- Mask use: select a facility that has requires all staff and attendees to wear a mask that covers their mouth and nose at all times.
- Exertion level: limit high-intensity activities to the outdoors.
- Ventilation: look for gyms, fitness centers, or studios that have high ceilings and use ventilation practices such as opening doors and windows and use portable air cleaners that have HEPA filters.
- Frequently touched surfaces: wipe down frequently touched surfaces, such as machines and equipment, with wipes before and after use.
- Clean hands: wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol before and after using machines.
- Number of people: go during off-peak times to avoid crowding.
- Duration: if choosing to stay indoors, keep your workouts as brief as possible to avoid prolonged exposure.
Do not visit a gym, fitness center, or studio if:
- The facility does not have any mitigation measures in place, such as requirements for masks and physical distancing.
- You have tested positive for COVID-19.
- You are showing any symptoms of COVID-19.
- Any of the people in your household or close contacts have tested positive for COVID-19 or are showing symptoms of COVID-19.
- You have been recently tested for COVID-19 and are waiting on test results.
Prepare before you go
- Use options for online reservations and check-in systems when available.
- Go to the gym, fitness center, or studio during low-usage times.
- Be aware of any extra prevention practices being implemented by the facility, such as new plexiglass barriers, mask policies, and closing of shared locker room space.
- Be prepared to not use the locker room in order to reduce the risk of being in close proximity to others in a small space. Arrive in work-out clothes and shower at home to avoid using shared locker room and bathrooms.
Limit activity indoors, especially group activities
- Use facilities with outdoor space or options for virtual classes and training sessions as much as possible.
- Limit attendance at high intensity activities such as indoor group training sessions. If you do attend such a session, maintain as much distance as possible– at least 6 feet –between yourself and other individuals, and be sure to wear a mask covering your mouth and nose. If this is not possible, consider an outdoor training session instead.
- If you need to be indoors, open windows to increase airflow throughout the space.
Choose low-intensity activities over high-intensity activities when indoors
- Limit high-intensity activity when indoors, such as vigorous dancing, pick-up basketball, running, racquetball/squash, and spinning.
- Lower-intensity activities, such as yoga or walking, are safer indoor options. However, make sure to use physical distancing, limit physical contact, take extra precautions with shared equipment, and wear a mask.
Use physical distancing and limit physical contact
- Maintain at least 6 feet of separation as much as possible in areas that may lead to close contact (within 6 feet) among other people, such as weight rooms, group studios, pools and saunas, courts and fields, walking/running tracks, locker rooms, check-in areas, parking lots, and routes of entry and exit.
- Increase distance for high-intensity activities.
- Don’t shake hands, give high-fives, do elbow bumps, or touch others because close contact increases the risk of acquiring COVID-19.
Take extra precautions with shared equipment
- Ensure equipment is clean. Wipe down machines and equipment with wipes and use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol before using machines.
- Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol before and after using shared equipment.
Wear a mask
- Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when interacting with other people to minimize the risk of transmitting the virus.
- Wearing both a mask and physical distancing is important. Do any vigorous-intensity exercise outside when possible, stay at least 6 feet away from other participants, trainers, and clients, and wear a mask. If the intensity of the exercise makes it difficult to wear a mask, it is especially important to do that activities outdoors away from others.
- Wash your hands before adjusting your mask—review information about proper use, removal, and washing of masks.
- For healthy people, wearing masks during exercise has not been shown to be harmful. However, individuals affected by lung disease, such as asthma or COPD, or heart disease, should be evaluated by a healthcare provider before attempting exercise with any mask.
- Remove your mask if it gets moist from sweat and replace it with a clean mask while exercising. Have more than one mask on hand so that you can easily replace a moist mask with a dry one.
Going to a nail salon
Prepare for your appointment
- Book services in advance to remove the need for waiting in a lobby with other people. If you must wait, maintain social distance.
- Before you go, call and ask if all staff are wearing masks at work and if there are physical barriers to minimize risk of transmission (e.g., plexiglass barriers).
- If offered by the salon, wait in your car or outside until you can be contacted by mobile phone when it is your turn to be seen for an appointment.
Wear a mask
- Wear a mask at all times when inside the salon.
Wash hands often and limit contact with common surfaces or items
- Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer immediately before receiving your service and after touching any common surfaces like curing lamps, countertops, doorknobs, toilets, tables, light switches, phones, faucets, sinks, and keyboards.
- Use cashless payment options when possible. If not available, ensure that cash and cards are handled with care by employees either by changing gloves between each transaction or with use of hand sanitizer between clients.
- Look for no-touch waste baskets at the cash registers and in the restrooms.
Visiting a library
Use curbside pickup or choose digital materials
- Use online reservation and advance-order checkout systems, if possible.
- Choose digital over print materials, if possible.
- Request a curbside pick-up if available and use masks during pick-up exchanges.
Clean hands when handling shared items or electronics
- Wash your hands before and after exchanges.
- Clean electronics (laptops) and library materials in plastic containers (CDs, audio books) during returns and/or exchanges.
- If allowed and available inside the library, use computer stations one person at a time. Ensure they are cleaned before use and use a disinfectant wipe on the mouse and keyboard.
Check the hotel’s COVID-19 prevention practices before you go
- Use options for online reservation and check-in, mobile room key, and contactless payment.
- Before you go, call and ask if all staff are wearing masks at work.
- Look for any extra prevention practices being implemented by the hotel, such as plexiglass barriers at check-in counters, and physical distancing signs in the lobby.
- Ask if the hotel has updated policies about cleaning and disinfecting or removing high-touch surfaces and items (such as pens, room keys, tables, phones, doorknobs, light switches, elevator buttons, water fountains, ATMs/card payment stations, business center computers and printers, ice/vending machines, and remote controls).
Wear masks and limit close contact with others
- Wear a mask in the lobby or other common areas.
- Minimize use of areas that may lead to close contact (within 6 feet) with other people as much as possible, like break rooms, outside patios, inside lounging areas, dining areas/kitchens, game rooms, pools, hot tubs, saunas, spas, salons, and fitness centers.
- Consider taking the stairs. Otherwise wait to use the elevator until you can either ride alone or only with people from your household.
Choose contactless options, when possible
- Request contactless delivery for any room service order.
- If you are considering cleaning your travel lodgings, see CDC’s guidance on how to clean high touch surfaces.
Protect yourself and others when you travel away your community
- Learn more about safely planning travel during the COVID-19 outbreak.