6 Things Doctors Say They'll Refuse to Do for Another Year

Doctors say it'll be at least 12 months before they feel comfortable doing these basic things.

The beginning of the coronavirus pandemic brought unprecedented changes to everyday life with it. And as millions across the country begin to experience the first phases of reopening, there are still plenty of risks that don't completely allow for us to return to life exactly as we knew it before. In fact, some activities may not even be an option for quite some time. If you want to know what's really risky and what's not, The New York Times surveyed 511 epidemiologists about what they won't be doing anytime soon.

Their responses to when they expect to do certain activities in their personal lives help paint a picture of what's safe and what's not. The panel almost unanimously agreed that outdoor activities, sticking to smaller groups, and wearing masks would be necessary for a long time. These medical experts say the following are the activities they won't be doing for the next year or more. And for more spots you should be staying away from, check out The Riskiest Places You're Going Right Now—Ranked by Doctors.

Attend a wedding or funeral

wedding couple greeting guest separately

The coronavirus pandemic has made large gatherings of any kind a risky affair, but being able to pass up milestone ceremonies such as weddings and funerals can be a difficult decision to make. Nicole Frascino, an epidemiologist from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told The Times she wouldn't attend a wedding until there was a vaccine.

Others still cite the inherent danger. "It makes no sense to risk people's lives for a celebration," Claudia A. Salinas, an epidemiologist with Eli Lilly and Company, told The Times. "What a tragedy that would be." And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Shake hands or hug

Caucasian young women hugging smiling

While not being able to dine out, go shopping, or take trips has been difficult during lockdown, the simple lack of physical touch has been the hardest for many to bear. And even if there are safer ways to embrace, epidemiologists are still not convinced that hugs and high fives will ever come back.

"I think the handshake is dead," Priyanka Gogna of Queen's University said. T. Christopher Bond, an epidemiologist with Bristol Myers Squibb, went even further by telling The Times: "Real epidemiologists don't shake hands." And for more on this, The One Simple Thing Doctors Say They'll Never Do Again.

Go out with a stranger or acquaintance

couple laughing at restaurant, f

The coronavirus lockdown has made it harder to see friends and loved ones, but there's also an inherent danger in spending time with new friends or acquaintances while the virus is still out there. This is especially hard for anyone looking to get back to swiping on their dating apps in search of love. Most epidemiologists agree that this would reluctantly be one of the last things they feel comfortable doing—at least without massive stipulations—until next year. And for more things you shouldn't be doing right now, check out 7 Things You Absolutely Should Not Be Doing With Friends Right Now.

Attend church or a religious service

Congregation at church praying

Places of worship serve as a community hub for millions around the world. And while not being able to attend them can be a spiritually difficult sacrifice, many doctors feel that returning to church, temple, and the like is too much, too soon. "Balancing between public health practices and religious obligations has been very eye-opening and humbling for me as an academic," Ayaz Hyder, an epidemiologist at Ohio State University, told The Times. And for more on high-risk activities, check out The Worst Coronavirus "Super Spreaders" You Need to Know.

Stop regularly wearing a face mask

man holding onto face mask that may be too small

Getting used to constantly wearing face masks in public has been a difficult transition for many. But epidemiologists say their benefits are worth forgoing the comfortability. "It's hard to know when it will be the right time to stop face-covering, but given it is such a small inconvenience for notable gains, I find it hard to believe that anyone is in a hurry to end this practice," Amy Padula of the University of California-San Francisco told The Times.

Still, others put no time limit on certain situations that required covering their face. "I will probably always wear a mask on a plane from now on," said Jean Brender of Texas A&M University.

Attend a concert, play, or sporting event


Being able to catch a show, game, or set during a night on the town may have been a popular pre-pandemic pastime, but new risks and realities have given medical experts pause about rushing back to them before 2021. "These are some of the highest-risk activities and probably attract more risk-embracing people," Vivian Towe of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute told The Times. "The addition of alcohol or drugs makes these activities too risky for me to consider anytime soon." And for more activities that are on hold, check out These Will Be the Last Places to Reopen After the Coronavirus.

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
Zachary covers beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He's the owner of Alphabet City Beer Co. in New York City and is a Certified Cicerone. Read more
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