The Riskiest Places You're Going Right Now—Ranked by Doctors

Rushing back out to some of your favorite spots post-quarantine? That might be a major health mistake.

With many states lifting their lockdowns and the reopening of businesses that have been shuttered since the pandemic began, you're probably eager to get outside and return to life pre-coronavirus as soon as possible. But medical experts still caution that even though shops, bars, restaurants, and public spaces may be coming back to life, there are some places that carry more danger than others. So how do you know which spots to avoid? According to a panel of doctors arranged by, here are the riskiest places you shouldn't rush back to as lockdown ends, ranked from bad to worse. And for more things you should avoid as you venture back into the real world, check out 6 Things You Should Never Touch in Public, According to the CDC.

Movie theaters

Friends laughing at the movies

While a bucket of fresh popcorn and a brand new movie on the big screen sounds like a great time after weeks of Netflix binges on the couch, doctors warn that cinemas are faced with a tough post-pandemic future. Audience members will have to observe spaced seating and limit when they can get up to walk by others—all while wearing masks, of course. Experts recommend drive-in theaters as a safer movie-going option right now. And for more on movie theaters post-pandemic, check out 5 Things You'll Never See at Movie Theaters Again After Coronavirus.

Hair salons and barbershops

friends getting haircut in hair salon things women do with their friends

No matter how good your hairdresser may be, it's impossible to get styled while observing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) social distancing guidelines. Who can cut hair at six feet away? If you simply must tame your locks, experts recommend choosing a salon that enforces the wearing of face masks or doesn't use hairdryers that could potentially circulate the virus around the room. And for more on salons in the wake of the virus, check out 7 Things You'll Never See at Your Hair Salon Ever Again.


Kids on a playground

Kids will be kids—and that means they're less likely to follow health recommendations when they hit the swings and jungle gym with other little ones. "Kids tend to touch their mouth or cough or sneeze on surfaces. You can't make little kids separate by six feet–it's just not the way they work," Dennis Cunningham, MD, the McLaren Health Care medical director for infection prevention, told

Indoor dining at restaurants

women ordering food from a waiter in a restaurant

Everyone misses ordering their favorite dish after months of lockdown. But recirculated air in restaurant dining rooms is made more dangerous by the fact that people must take off their face masks to eat. If you're dining out, ask the host for a seat on the patio or in a low traffic area away from restrooms or the front door if at all possible. And for more things that will change as businesses open their doors, check out 7 Myths About Reopening You Need to Stop Believing.

Public pools

Multi-Ethnic group of teenagers in public swimming pool

As the return of summer brings rising temperatures, families are going to want to beat the heat by taking a dip. But since swimming makes mask-wearing impossible, the large crowds at public swimming pools present an elevated risk of exposure.

Churches and places of worship

Congregation at church praying

Large groups gathering for worship have marked some of the highest super spreader cases of COVID-19. Spreading out seating and wearing face masks are some of the only ways to keep a congregation safe—but singing of any kind makes it much riskier.

Amusement parks

a girl on the swings at an amusement park

If you consider the large crowds, long lines, tight space on rides, and endless surfaces that must be constantly wiped down, a trip to an amusement park probably sounds riskier than a roller coaster right now. "Even with risk reduction strategies, I think it's going to be difficult," Matthew Sims, MD, director of infectious disease research Beaumont Health, told "It's about the riskiest you can get." And for more on how different the Happiest Place on Earth will be, check out 10 Huge Changes You'll See When Disney World Reopens This Summer.


white man with face mask and gloves lifting weights at the gym

Even if you've been able to work out at home, many people are anxious to get back to their favorite cycling class or Crossfit studio. Unfortunately, heavy breathing during exercise can spread respiratory droplets, and masks are often just too hard to wear during a sweat session. Instead, experts suggest thoroughly wiping down individual equipment for your workout and avoiding group classes. And for the worst thing you can do at the gym, check out The One Exercise That Makes Your Coronavirus Risk Skyrocket.


Friends laughing and drinking at a bar

You may be in a rush to get back to where everybody knows your name, but the fact is that most bar behavior puts you at high risk for exposure to coronavirus. Close mingling of large crowds, the lack of mask-wearing while drinking, decreased inhibitions, and poor ventilation make your favorite watering hole the riskiest place to go.

Best Life is constantly monitoring the latest news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed. Here are the answers to your most burning questions, the ways you can stay safe and healthy, the facts you need to know, the risks you should avoid, the myths you need to ignore,and the symptoms to be aware of. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.
Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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