Here Are the CDC’s Guidelines for Going Out During COVID-19

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As the majority of U.S. states emerge from their COVID-19 lockdowns, people are slowly starting to resume certain pre-pandemic activities. While going to concerts and events in other super crowded spaces may have to wait, outdoor dining, overnight travel, fitness centers, and nail salons are all gradually reintegrating themselves into daily American life. And as the official start of summer approaches, other activities with the potential for COVID-19 transmission, such as backyard bashes, may become more prevalent. The CDC has issued specific guidance and best practices that people can follow for going out during COVID-19 – find some of the basics below.

The three big factors

In its new guidance for going out during COVID-19, the CDC points to three key factors that people should consider for all upcoming activities: People, space, and time.


The more people with whom you come into contact, the more likely the chance of COVID-19 transmission will be. The CDC thus recommends limiting the number of people involved in your activities and interacting with as few people as possible whom you don’t previously know. In the specific instances of dining out and hosting gatherings or cookouts, the CDC advises keeping six feet of social distance as often as possible. 


Social distancing requirements at restaurants and gatherings tie into the CDC’s second key factor for all upcoming activities: space. As has long been the case with COVID-19, the CDC recommends keeping six feet of social distance from other people as often as possible. If this social distance is impossible to achieve outdoors, the CDC advises wearing cloth face masks to limit COVID-19 transmission. The CDC also advises wearing face masks at all indoor social activities.


Whereas the CDC’s guidance on going out during COVID-19 includes familiar talking points about space and people, its suggestions for time may be newer to many people. The CDC notes that the amount of time you spend at an activity may be a crucial consideration: The more time you spend around other people, the larger the number of possible opportunities for transmission becomes.

Additional safety and activity considerations

For people deciding whether going out during COVID-19 is safe, the CDC advises considering many basic public health factors. For starters, if you know that COVID-19 is spreading in your area and you expect to have close contact with people not wearing face masks, you may want to stay home. Additionally, if you or other people going out are at increased risk for COVID-19, staying home may be the right call. 

Certain activities may be inherently safer than others for people going out during COVID-19. Any activity that allows for easy social distancing is safer, and outdoor activities may be safer than indoor events, as indoor spaces tend to be less ventilated and, therefore, more prone to COVID-19 transmission.

COVID-19 safety considerations by activity

In addition to these general guidelines, the CDC has issued extensive guidance, broken down by activity type, on going out during COVID-19. For a full primer on safety concerns for activities including dining out, hosting gatherings, traveling overnight, and more, click here.

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