500 epidemiologists weigh in on when they might be able to do 'everyday activities' again

A worker at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport wears a mask on March 13, 2020 in Baltimore, Maryland
(Image credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Which activities put on pause due to the coronavirus pandemic might soon be safe to resume, and which might need to remain on hold for quite a while longer?

To get a sense of the answer, The New York Times surveyed a group of 511 epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists on when they expect to personally resume 18 activities. Though the Times notes these are personal answers that take their "life circumstances" into account, the activities that a plurality or majority said they may resume this summer included seeing a doctor for a nonurgent appointment and getting a haircut at a salon or barber shop.

Then there were activities a plurality or majority said they expect to resume in between three and 12 months, including attending a small dinner party, going to the gym, working in a shared office, flying on a plane, or riding a subway or bus. Finally, the activities that a plurality or majority said they'd likely not resume for a year or more include attending a wedding or funeral and attending a sporting event, concert, or play. Forty-two percent said they'd wait a year or more to hug or shake hands when greeting friends, as well, while six percent expected they would "never again" do so. "I think the handshake is dead," one expert told the Times.

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The experts were split on when they'll go out with someone they don't know well again, and they were also divided on when they expected to go to church or another religious service, with 43 percent saying three to 12 months and 43 percent saying longer.

When it comes to wearing face masks, though, more than half the experts agreed they don't expect to stop routinely doing so for another year or more, with one noting, "I will probably always wear a mask on a plane from now on." Read more at The New York Times.

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.