Read This Before You Start Going Out In Public Again

As of the beginning of May 2020, you shouldn't. Go out in public, that is. Some states are starting to relax their coronavirus lockdowns, whether that's for religious gatherings or beaches or religious gatherings on beaches. Others remain cautious and stringent. Science is still telling us that the best way to fight the virus is to stay away from one another. Public health officials continue to warn that reopening public venues of any sort is an invitation to contagion. While statistics indicate some slowing of the virus, widespread socializing could easily cause a resurgence of infection. Dr. Lucy Wilson, professor of emergency health services and an infectious disease physician at the University of Maryland, told CNN, "I think it runs the risk of being premature and giving people false hope that we can quickly change into the next phases."

And just as many civil authorities are implementing only gradual relaxation of the lockdown in careful stages, some scientists are also suggesting that personal reentry into public venues should be one step at a time. If you're absolutely determined to visit those long-missed nonessential visits — think hair — do just one in a day, to limit contact with potential carriers of the virus. Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and visiting professor at George Washington University Milken Institute of Public Health, told CNN that the more stores you visit on your "I'm free" list, the higher the odds of infection.

Maintain social distancing, especially at the gym

All of the science indicates that full-on public social contact is going to provide ample opportunity for a resurgence in the virus. If it gets bad enough, lockdowns will have to return before people start dying again. As Montana Governor Steve Bullock said, "Once we begin to reopen, we want to be able to stay open." New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo agreed: "This is not a light switch that we can just flick on and everything goes back to normal."

Visiting a restaurant? Kind of hard to eat while wearing a mask. If possible, eat outdoors, and dine at places where you're certain that precautions are being taken for public health and safety regarding coronavirus. Hitting the beach? Practice that good old social distancing: six feet apart. And if the beach or park is too crowded? Go home. It's not worth it.

It's probably a good idea to avoid group exercise classes. If you have to hit the gym, exercise (so to speak) extra caution: disinfect equipment before you use it. Stay a healthy distance away from others. As for hair salons: What are the circumstances? Are stations suitably distant from one another? Are employees using masks, shields, and gloves? And public transportation? If it isn't essential — really essential — just don't. Hoarding toilet paper is not essential.

No matter where you go, or what you do when you get there, always — always — wash your hands when you get home. We're asking as nicely as we know how.