Content from NY Times “The Morning” daily briefing.
When the coronavirus lockdowns began almost two months ago, the outdoors seemed like a scary place. It was where you could get infected by a neighbor, jogger, public bench, doorknob or any number of other things. The better move, as a popular hashtag put it, was to #StayHome.
As more virus research has emerged, however, the outdoors has begun to look safer. It still brings risks (like those doorknobs). But they are fairly small. One study of 1,245 coronavirus cases across China found that only two came from outdoors transmission.
Beside the research, something else has also begun to make outdoors seem more attractive. People have started to go stir crazy.
This combination is leading to a surge of new expert advice that might be boiled down to: Get out.
Wear masks when you do. Be careful about getting close to other people or touching surfaces. But experts are arguing that it’s time to think about how to move more activities outdoors — including socializing, eating, shopping, attending school and holding work meetings.
“The choice between staying home indefinitely and returning to business as usual now is a false one,” Julia Marcus of Harvard Medical School wrote in The Atlantic.
Marty Makary of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health put it this way, when I spoke to him yesterday: “The outdoors is not only good for your mental state. It’s also a safer place than indoors.” Makary has an Opinion article in today’s Times, called “How to Reopen America Safely.”
Many cities are now expanding outdoor activities. Oakland has closed almost 10 percent of roads to traffic, CNN noted. Cincinnati is closing parts of 25 streets “so restaurants can expand outdoor seating,” The Cincinnati Enquirer reported. San Jose may let restaurants open in parking lots and public parks, The Mercury News reported. Several states are reopening beaches, parks and golf courses.