Assess Your Risk For Avoiding the Coronavirus With These Activities

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By Dr. Henning Ansorg, M.D., FACP, Health Officer, County of Santa Barbara Public Health Department

Coronavirus transmission is not the same for every activity, however there are some activities that are riskier than others are.  It is recommended that six feet physical distancing always be maintained, no gathering with people other than those in your household, as well as wearing a face covering over the nose and mouth and practicing good hygiene. 

It is important to understand why some activities may present a risk and how to address so all can make informed decisions.


Gathering of Friends of Family:

Right now, any gathering is strictly prohibited under the state and county stay at home order, as only individuals who reside in the same household may gather at any indoor or outdoor location.  Getting together with family or friends who don’t live in your household is prohibited by the current County Health Order and comes with a high risk of infection. 


Right now, indoor bars are mandated by the State to be closed.  The nature of bars — mingling, crowded bar tops, and the likelihood of not wearing a mask while you are drinking — make bars a high-risk place for getting a coronavirus infection.  It should be noted that alcohol can hinder decision-making, which could make those factors even worse.

Worship Functions:

Rituals like shaking hands, hugging and taking communion, as well as dense crowds and the prevalence of older people, make religious services a high-risk place for coronavirus infections. Once places of worship are allowed by the State to re-open, the risk can be lowered by social distancing, wearing masks, and abstaining from rituals that involve touching, eating or drinking.  It should be noted that many religious organizations are offering online services that you may wish to check out.

Movie Theatres & Sporting Events:

While currently closed by the State, movie theaters or large events like concerts and sporting games have a high risk because of the crowding and likelihood of not maintaining a six-foot distance from others, especially when entering and exiting the venue.



New State orders have closed indoor gyms for the time being, although some gyms have made accommodations for outdoor exercising. Please remember that masks are required to be worn over your nose and mouth at all times.  Also, equipment should be sanitized before and after each use, and social distancing should be enforced rigorously.

Indoor Restaurants:

Indoor dining at restaurants, which is currently closed by the State, is risky because of airflow and people being together in an enclosed space for hours at a time. Many restaurants are currently offering take out and curbside pick-up.  As re-opening occurs, some restaurants may  expand their outdoor footprint to accommodate dining outside, which is preferable to indoor dining in the prevention of spreading the virus.

Hair & Nail Salons:

Hair and nail salons, which are currently closed by State order, are assessed at having a medium risk of infection. Once re-opening occurs, patrons and also employees should always wear masks, as it helps block particles from spreading as easily when you are speaking or coughing. It also discourages employees and customers from touching their faces. Salon employees must also wash their hands frequently.


Dates or Gatherings with a Small Known Group:

As with large group gatherings, small, known group gatherings with anyone that does not reside in your household is strictly prohibited at this time.  Please do not gather with people living outside your household and when you do go out,  such as for a walk or to the grocery store, always wear a mask and maintain six-foot distancing.


Social distancing on beaches is vital in lowering the risk of catching the coronavirus.  Because of the many entry points for beaches, it is hard to enforce distancing, prompting officials to often close beaches on holiday weekends when large crowds are anticipated.  If you go, remember to distance from others outside your household and don’t forget the sunscreen!


Outdoor Dining:

Once re-opened by the State, dining outdoors at a restaurant is a relatively low-risk activity because it allows air to flow more freely, as long as tables are kept at least six feet apart.  Right now, Health Orders require that you only dine with people in your immediate household. You should still wear a mask as often as you can and be cautious of high-touch items like menus and condiments.

Outdoor Activities:

When you are on a hike or a walk in the park, you shouldn’t worry too much about quickly walking past another person on a path or trail.  Be sure to maintain a distance of six feet from others at all times.

Outdoor activities are low risk if you stay with people from your own household. If you meet up with other friends or family, that still counts as a gathering, and is currently strictly prohibited.


Shopping in a grocery store or a clothing store can be low risk if you keep a distance from others and wear a mask.  The place in stores with the most risk is the checkout, where interactions with cashiers or other customers could help spread the virus, so be aware of what you touch.

Touching Mail or Groceries:

There is a low risk of catching the coronavirus from touching your mail or other items like groceries.  You should still be cautious about touching things like doorknobs and elevator buttons which are high touch things.

For more information about how you can prevent getting and spreading the coronavirus and what steps the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department is taking to protect our communities, please visit:

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Bob From Ventura Aug 11, 2020 05:12 PM
Assess Your Risk For Avoiding the Coronavirus With These Activities

Assess your risk.

“We project that roughly 56 percent of our population — 25.5 million people — will be infected with the virus over an eight week period.” -- Gavin Newsom, March 19, 2020

Number of COVID cases as of August 11, 2020: 574,411, or 1.45% of population.

sblocal1967 Aug 11, 2020 02:42 PM
Assess Your Risk For Avoiding the Coronavirus With These Activities

The main risk of getting CV is by being in contact with people who have it. However the gov't will not reveal the location where the people that are getting CV have actually gotten it. Why? I guess political correctness. So, basically we are OK that more people get infected and perhaps die, than sharing even a hint of the locations where people are getting CV.

Lucky 777 Aug 11, 2020 02:21 PM
Assess Your Risk For Avoiding the Coronavirus With These Activities

Dr. Henning Ansorg is absolutely loving his moment in the spotlight. It isn't HIS business shut down for months, while the giant corporate entities like Costco and Amazon and groceries are making a profit. And check out the embroidery on the right chest pocket of his spotless white coat, the word HEALTH is at a drunken angle. He and Do-Reynoso are seriously the best we can do?

PitMix Aug 12, 2020 08:34 AM
Assess Your Risk For Avoiding the Coronavirus With These Activities

I haven't seen them do anything suspicious during this time. If you chase them out of these jobs, who will you get next? Public health officials are quitting all over California due to threats from the anti-mask people. But that crooked embroidery thing is definitely grounds for firing. Not.

PitMix Aug 11, 2020 01:41 PM
Assess Your Risk For Avoiding the Coronavirus With These Activities

Unless your friend happens to be in prison or has a restraining order against you or is in quarantine for an infection disease. Then the government can definitely tell you who you can gather with. But I like your rebellious stance, it is very cool.

giftedinSB Aug 11, 2020 01:10 PM
Assess Your Risk For Avoiding the Coronavirus With These Activities

This list is entirely unhelpful. If small group gatherings are prohibited, then we better start sending police officers to start cracking down at the Mission, courthouse, beaches, etc. /sarcasm People are going to gather, and outdoors activities have been show to be lower-risk. It's also pretty upsetting to see the discouragement of religious sacraments. Passed plates and cups, no. But there are pre-packaged individual servings that people can grab on their own. That's like telling a Muslim they can't wear a hijab or participate in namaz (Muslim prayer). This is getting dangerously close to infringing on freedom of religion.

sacjon Aug 11, 2020 01:20 PM
Assess Your Risk For Avoiding the Coronavirus With These Activities

GIFTEDINSB - No, it's absolutely nothing like telling a Muslim they can't wear a hijab... it's like telling ANY human being they cannot gather indoors, in close proximity without masks on. That is all. This has nothing to do with the 1st Amendment. No one is saying they can't worship or in any way practice their religion, other than they can't do it in this manner as it puts the rest of the community at risk.

m-cubed Aug 11, 2020 11:57 AM
Assess Your Risk For Avoiding the Coronavirus With These Activities

eh.. i feel like there are too many variables to 'outdoor dining' to deem the activity in general to be 'low risk' . seated with your spouse six feet from other tables. sure. seated with your office lunch group or your group of friends whose behavioral patterns are largely unknown to you, not the same thing. now that barbers, salons, etc. are all masked up and constantly disinfectin everything i'd wager those activities are in general lower risk than 'outdoor dining'.

Sbrysa Aug 11, 2020 07:16 PM
Assess Your Risk For Avoiding the Coronavirus With These Activities

There is a difference. We wear face shields and masks and require masks for customers as well. As for myself with the 2 weeks I did work I made the commitment to my clients that I was not doing social things. The only thing I did was go to the spa then come straight home

PitMix Aug 11, 2020 01:43 PM
Assess Your Risk For Avoiding the Coronavirus With These Activities

Sure, seated in a salon chair with a person whose behavioral patterns are largely unknown to working in your personal space is very low risk, just like the dining example you gave. Unless they are swallowing disinfectant, they could be infected and dispersing it onto you.

a-1597168854 Aug 11, 2020 11:00 AM
Assess Your Risk For Avoiding the Coronavirus With These Activities

Must admit this is incongruous in that a group of 20, 30 or 40 strangers can sit in an outdoor restaurant patio, distanced on tables 4 to 5 feet apart, no masks on diners, but not okay for a group of friends in a park distanced the same to share a picnic? What about a group of 10 friends distanced 6' apart with masks? This is not okay according to guidelines? A tiny bit of common sense is needed.

LCP112233 Aug 11, 2020 01:39 PM
Assess Your Risk For Avoiding the Coronavirus With These Activities

@11:00. Couldn't agree more. And also consider the food handling and how many people touch it. Who knows if the kitchen employees are wearing masks properly and washing hands enough. That, in my mind is a pretty substantial risk. There are places that I have eaten that tables may or may have not been sanitized between patrons. Steer clear of those places. Not everyone plays by the rules.

Sbrysa Aug 11, 2020 10:52 AM
Assess Your Risk For Avoiding the Coronavirus With These Activities

This is bullshit. Public health has said not 1 case of spread is known to have come from a client or to a client at any salon or spa in California. You are hurting businesses by ranking them. This is slanderous. Even if u allow these businesses to reopen they can never thrive now until all covid is gone.

PitMix Aug 11, 2020 01:55 PM
Assess Your Risk For Avoiding the Coronavirus With These Activities

Given the state of testing and tracing in California, the fact that no one has proven that infected people in a salon passed it to their clients doesn't mean it couldn't happen. If it doesn't make sense to you that being in close proximity to strangers increases your risk, then it is hard to know what else can be said.

sacjon Aug 11, 2020 12:52 PM
Assess Your Risk For Avoiding the Coronavirus With These Activities

SBRYSA - it may be untrue that the spread started at a nail salon, but that doesn't mean they aren't still a risky place to be. This is not slanderous at all. It's simply informing the public of the different places/situations where the risk of infection are higher/lower.

a-1597170499 Aug 11, 2020 11:28 AM
Assess Your Risk For Avoiding the Coronavirus With These Activities

Gov Newsom, without offering any proof, blamed a nail salon for starting the spread of the corona virus in California on May 7, 2020, and thus shut down the entire state private economy:........"

Newsom didn’t say where or when this earliest-reported community spread occurred.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has previously said that the first community spread of COVID-19 in the US happened in Solano County in mid-February.

It’s unclear if the nail salon case that Newsom mentioned involved that same patient, who had not recently traveled outside the country. ......."

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