The risk of getting COVID-19 from different activities – Ranked from low to high

The Texas Medical Association (TMA) has released a list which ranks activities on a scale of 1 to 10, reflecting how risky they are in terms of exposure to COVID-19 infection.

This list is based on the feedback of physicians from the TMA COVID-19 Task Force and the committee on infectious diseases.

Over the past few months, a lot of knowledge was gained about the coronavirus and what people can do to prevent the spread of the disease.

The World Health Organisation and the South African Department of Health have released guidelines to reduce your chances of being infected or spreading COVID-19.

  • Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • Maintain at least 1-metre distance between yourself and others.
  • Wear a mask which covers your nose and mouth.
  • Avoid going to crowded places.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

People are also advised to follow good respiratory hygiene, which includes covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze.

Even if you have minor symptoms such as cough, headache, mild fever, you should stay home and self-isolate until you recover.

If you have a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, you are advised to seek medical attention but call by telephone in advance if possible, and follow the directions of your local health authority.

People are further advised to avoid sharing food and other items and avoid indoor gatherings if possible.

Activities ranked based on COVID-19 risk

The TMA’s list, which ranks activities based on COVID-19 risk, corresponds with similar lists released by Reuters and The Washington Post.

The table below provides an overview of these three sources on the risk which activities pose in terms of COVID-19 exposure.

The higher the Risk Rating (from 1 to 10), the higher the chance is that you will get COVID-19 when engaging in this activity.

The table also shows whether these activities are currently allowed in South Africa under the latest alert level 3 lockdown regulations.

COVID-19 Risk
Activity Risk Rating Risk Regulations
Opening the mail 1 Low risk Allowed
Getting a restaurant takeout 2 Low risk Allowed
Playing tennis 2 Low risk Allowed
Go camping 2 Low risk Not Allowed
Grocery shopping 3 Moderate-low risk Allowed
Going for a walk, run or cycle with others 3 Moderate-low risk Allowed
Playing golf 3 Moderate-low risk Allowed
Staying at a hotel for 2 nights 4 Moderate-low risk Allowed for business only
Sitting at a doctor’s waiting room 4 Moderate-low risk Allowed
Going to a library or museum 4 Moderate-low risk Allowed
Eating at a restaurant (outside) 4 Moderate-low risk Allowed
Walking in a busy street 4 Moderate-low risk Allowed
Spending an hour at a playground 4 Moderate-low risk Not Allowed
Having dinner at someone else’s house 5 Moderate risk Not Allowed
Attending a braai 5 Moderate risk Not Allowed
Going to the beach 5 Moderate risk Not Allowed
Shopping at a mall 5 Moderate risk Allowed
Sending kids to school or day care 6 Moderate risk Allowed for certain grades
Working a week in an office building 6 Moderate risk Allowed
Swimming in a public pool 6 Moderate risk Not Allowed
Visiting an elderly person at their home 6 Moderate risk Not Allowed
Going to a hair salon 7 Moderate-high risk Allowed
Eating at a restaurant (inside) 7 Moderate-high risk Allowed
Attending a wedding or funeral 7 Moderate-high risk Allowed
Travel by plane 7 Moderate-high risk Allowed for business only
Playing football or basketball 7 Moderate-high risk Allowed
Hugging or shaking hands when greeting 7 Moderate-high risk Discouraged
Eating at a buffet 8 High risk Not Allowed
Working out at a gym 8 High risk Not Allowed
Going to an amusement park 8 High risk Not Allowed
Going to a movie theatre 8 High risk Not Allowed
Taking public transport 8 High risk Allowed
Attending a large music concert 9 High risk Not Allowed
Going to a sports stadium 9 High risk Not Allowed
Going to religious gathering with 500+ people 9 High risk Not Allowed
Going to a bar 9 High risk Not Allowed

Now read: Gauteng government wants a hard lockdown

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The risk of getting COVID-19 from different activities – Ranked from low to high