Rodrigo Diaz M.
As spring weather takes over the city, with temperatures reaching as high as 23 degrees Celsius over the weekend, Toronto residents are itching to get outside after being locked in in the middle of the third wave of the pandemic.
For those wondering what is considered safe for outdoor activities and what behaviors could increase the risks of COVID transmission, experts have some answers.
The first thing to keep in mind is that, even with variants of the virus, infectious disease physicians claim that the virus is less likely to accumulate and be harmful outdoors.
“I’d rather have 100 people outdoors in a park than 20 indoors,” says Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, infectious disease specialist at Trillium Health Partners.
Respiratory viruses are spread through aerosol droplets that can be passed from one person to another.
In an area with very little ventilation, such as many closed spaces, these droplets can accumulate and the amount of virus in them can infect someone.
“One way to mitigate this is to have more ventilation, and that’s what you see in hospitals and it decreases the possibility that there is a strong concentration of particles that can infect,” said Chakrabarti. “Being outdoors, essentially, is having perfect ventilation.”
Last summer, Toronto officials and Ontario Premier Doug Ford criticized crowds at Trinity Bellwoods Park on a particularly pleasant day, saying it could cause an increase in COVID-19 cases. 19 and undo weeks of effort to slow the spread of the virus.
But Chakrabarti says the risk of outdoor transmission is so low that outrage is unwarranted about its effect on the daily case count, or the lack of it.
On the other hand, Chakrabarti cautioned that if you plan to have an extended conversation with someone and cannot physically distance yourself, consider wearing a mask. He also said avoiding large crowds is another way to mitigate risk.
In December, Mayo Clinic published a list of low-risk outdoor activities, including running, walking, rollerblading, biking, fishing, and golfing.
The “medium risk” category of outdoor activities includes picnics, which experts say may be safer.
Sports such as tennis, baseball, and soccer, in which distance can be maintained, are considered safer than high-contact sports such as basketball and wrestling.
Regardless of the activity, experts say that getting outside to exercise can help people cope with the pandemic by providing much-needed mental boost.