Do we still have to keep wearing masks outside?

Walking with your dog, cycling, hiking or picnicking with members of your household or friends who have been vaccinated are all activities where the risk of exposure to viruses is negligible. In such situations, you can keep a mask on hand in your pocket, if you want to be in a crowd or indoors.

“I think it’s a little too much to ask people to put on the mask when they go hiking or jogging or cycling,” he said. Dr Muge Cevik, a clinical lecturer in infectious diseases and medical virology at the University of St. Andrews School of Medicine in Scotland, where outdoor masking has never been necessary. “We are in another stage of the pandemic. I think outdoor masks should not have been a mandate at all. This is not where the infection and transmission take place. ”

‘Let me run without a mask. Mask in pocket, “tweeted Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, a physician for infectious diseases and the medical director of the special pathogen unit at Boston Medical Center. “Given how conservative I am throughout the year about my opinions, it should tell you how low the risk of transmission in general is for contact over short periods of time – and even lower after vaccination. In a crowd and on his way indoors. ‘

To understand how low the risk of transmission outdoors is, researchers in Italy used mathematical models to calculate the amount of time it takes for a person to become infected outside in Milan. They imagined a gloomy scenario in which 10 percent of the population was infected with Covid-19. Their calculations showed that if a person avoided crowds, it would take an average of 31.5 days of persistent exposure to the outside to inhale a dose of virus sufficient to transmit infection.

“The results are that this risk is negligible outdoors if crowds and direct contact between people are avoided,” said Daniele Contini, senior author of the study and an aerosol scientist at the Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate in Lecce, Italy. .

Even as more infectious virus variants spread, the physics of viral transmission outdoors has not changed, and the risk of infecting outdoors is still low, virus experts say. Take note of the infection rates in your community. As the number of cases increases, your risk of encountering an infected person increases.

Dr Cevik notes that debates over outdoor masking and articles showing photos of busy beaches during the pandemic have left people with the wrong impression that parks and beaches are unsafe, and are distracted from the much greater risks of indoor transmission. Often it is the indoor activities associated with outdoor fun – such as traveling unmasked in a subway or car to go for a walk, or going down to a bar to the beach – that pose the greatest risk. “People keep frying outside, but then they spend time indoors in the kitchen,” Dr Cevik said.