Can you avoid coronavirus when going out in public? These 16 practical tips could help


Don’t let your guard down

Unfortunately, the pandemic is far from over. There are now over 5.5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases around the world, and over 347,000 deaths linked to the coronavirus. World and local leaders warn that a second wave of infections is possible as cities reopen and people come into closer contact once again.

Continue to wear a face mask in public places

A couple months ago, wearing a face mask when going out in public was purely voluntary. In many places, it still is, though the CDC now encourages it as a voluntary health measure in areas with high transmission rates, and in places where people can’t maintain social distancing of six feet. The recommendation applies to face masks and coverings you make at home or .

Don’t make shopping trips a source of entertainment

The point of shelter in place and distancing efforts is to keep you from transmitting the virus to others or acquiring it yourself. Yes, that can be boring, but the list of COVID-19 symptoms is long and frightening for people who have it, even if they do recover, which can take weeks.

Enough with the fingertips: Use your knees, feet, elbows and knuckles instead

If you’re still pressing buttons for walk signs with your fingertips, stop. Any time you have to open a door, push a button, pull a lever or digitally sign for something, use a different body part instead. You have plenty.

Uplifting scenes of coronavirus solidarity around the world

Enforce social distancing even if others don’t

Social distancing can mean anything from hunkering down at home and refraining from seeing outside friends and family in person to keeping a boundary between you and others when you do go out. The practice of keeping six feet away from those outside your home group extends to waiting in line at the grocery store, going on walks (you can momentarily walk in the bike lane if you’re careful about looking out for street traffic) and picking up food to go.

Look for the automatic option

If the doors to whichever building you’re entering aren’t already propped open or have automatic sensors, look around before you pull a handle. Most modern buildings have accessibility buttons to open doors for people with mobility concerns. You can easily touch this with your forearm, hip or foot (some are pretty low down) and wait a few seconds for the doors to open.

Watch where you put your phone

While we’ve gotten the go-ahead to use disinfecting wipes on phones, another smart idea is to avoid placing your device on iffy surfaces to begin with. Do you really need to put your phone down, or can you just stash it in a coat pocket or purse? The less you can expose your phone to shared surfaces, the less you need to worry about them in the first place.

Set aside your reusable tote bags

Increasingly, store policy excludes you from bringing outside tote bags and other bags into grocery stores. If you want to lessen your environmental impact, find ways to reuse the store’s fresh bags at home.

Don’t sort through produce with your bare hands

At a time when face masks are increasingly common in stores and shoppers might give you a withering look for rummaging through lemons, here’s a little advice: Don’t poke the bear.

Whatever you do, touching’s off limits

The best way to prevent acquiring the coronavirus is to limit your social circle, but as cities reopen, getting in other people’s proximity will be hard to avoid. There’s the loneliness factor, too. After long weeks at home, it’s natural to want to see your family and friends.

For food and package delivery, embrace the awkward

Keeping your distance means that you’ll need to get comfortable speaking through closed doors and hanging back rather than rushing forward to help the person delivering you packages, mail and food. For example, if you happen to be outside, it’s not rude to let the mail carrier walk all the way up to the front door and place the mail in the box rather than take it directly — it’s appropriately cautious for the times, and helps protect you and them by keeping your distance.

Wash your hands every time you get ‘home’

Along with social distancing, washing your hands thoroughly is one of your best defenses against acquiring the coronavirus. Give your hands a thorough scrub each time you get back. Twenty seconds is the going recommendation, which may seem like ages, but if you wash slowly, it’s easy to do.

Don’t neglect your car and home

After getting back from running errands, it doesn’t hurt to wipe down your car and surfaces in your home, especially if you share it with others. Person-to-person contact is the most common vector, but viruses and bacteria do spread through objects and other forms of indirect physical contact. Here’s our guide for sanitizing your home and car.

Carry extra napkins, disinfecting wipes and facial tissue

Packing extra tissues, disinfecting wipes, wet wipes and other paper products in my purse is already part of my habit, but now I pay extra attention to how much paper I have on hand.

Stop handling cash

While it’s believed that the highest risk of acquiring the coronavirus comes from person-to-person transmission, we do know that shared surfaces can harbor the virus. Play it safe by setting the cash aside for now and relying more on contactless payments. Some businesses are even refusing to take cash as a safety measure for employees.

Banish questionable items to a long time out

The coronavirus can cling to surfaces, such as your jacket or a tabletop, for up to nine days at room temperature, studies have found. However, the CDC found that the coronavirus RNA remained in cabins about the Diamond Princess Cruise ship up to 17 days after passengers departed.



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Dr. Walubita Siyanga

Dr. Walubita Siyanga


Training Consultant, Life Coach, Counselor, Motivational speaker, Branding/Media Consultant, TV/Radio Personality and Author