How to Assess the Risk of an Infection When Taking the Kids Out
Social distancing rules have relaxed. Families can now go out. We can go to the café. We can entertain at home. And, the grandparents can visit again.
The government has assured us that they are safely opening the economy. But, some parents are still hesitant to take the plunge. After nearly two-months in lockdown and with no vaccine in sight, it’s not surprising that we’re worried.
Are There Any Risks if I Take the Kids Out?
Yes, the risks are still around. Unfortunately, we cannot keep our kids locked indoors until a vaccine is discovered. Staying indoors indefinitely is not good for their mental, physical, or emotional wellbeing. It is not good for adults as well.
Some of our parents have told us that they are looking forward to taking the kids out to brunch. But they are worried that other patrons in the restaurant may not be following social distancing and hygiene.
Parents do not have to worry unnecessarily if they know how to assess the risk. If we make the right decisions to stay safe while we are out, we can minimise the risk of contracting the virus.
Understanding the risk of contracting the virus
This week, the NSW government has allowed restaurants and cafes to serve up to 50 customers at a time. This number will likely continue to increase in the next few weeks as the number of new infections continues to fall throughout Australia.
Businesses know that they have to practise strict physical distance and hygiene to stay open. Most businesses will adhere to these guidelines because they do not want a cluster outbreak that will shut their doors again.
Parents can feel assured that the restaurant or café they take the kids will be doing all they can to keep patrons safe and healthy. But parents can also go a step further by learning how to assess the relative risks and taking action to mitigate them.
Here are four ways to assess the risk of contracting coronavirus when you are outside the home:
1. Proximity, activity, and timing
The closer you are to a person with the virus, the higher your chances of being infected.
This means, when you’re out on the street, try to keep the recommended 1.5m physical distance. If you see a group of people coming towards you, cross to the other side of the road.
If you go to a café and it is not observing physical distancing (i.e. one empty table on either side of you), take the kids somewhere else instead.
The activities you participate in can minimise the risk of infection. Going for a family picnic in the park is less risky than taking the kids to a crowded mall.
Try to go to crowded places during less crowded times. If you want to take the kids to the mall, don’t do it on a weekend. Try going late afternoon on a weekday when there will be fewer people around.
If you want to take the kids to a restaurant, choose a weekday rather than a busy weekend lunch service. You will be able to enjoy your experience better if you do not have to keep worrying about every second stranger who enters the place.
2. Pooled Risk
Pooling your risks with other low-risk people means you can have a great social experience without the worry of contracting the virus.
Invite friends and family over for a BBQ in your backyard. The kids will love seeing their friends and cousins again. The adults will have a good time catching up.
3. Risk is Cumulative
Risk is cumulative. The more times you expose yourself to a potentially harmful situation, the more likely that harm can come to you.
If you have to take the kids to an activity that involves mixing with large crowds then don’t do other similar activities on the same day. For example, if your kid needs a haircut at the mall, get the haircut out of the way and take him/her home. Don’t take him/her shopping after that just because you’re at the mall. Drop the shopping and keep it for another day.
4. Individual Effort = Cumulative Outcome
The decisions you make as an individual affect others in the coronavirus pandemic. If you stay home because you are unwell, you are minimising the risk of others picking up your illness. Someone else who is sick and staying home is keeping you safe. If you wash and disinfect your hands regularly, you reduce the risk of passing any germs or bacteria to others.
If you are out and someone else is not observing the rules, don’t hesitate to point it out to them. Don’t be rude. Be firm.
If you are in a café with the family and someone else comes into your personal space, tell them to go back to the cross where they are supposed to be standing. No one’s going to get angry with you because you’re trying to keep your family safe.
The world is taking a small but important step back to normalcy. If we focus on the little things we can do to stay safe, we can help keep our kids safe too. At the same time, we keep our community safe. Stay safe. Stay strong. Together we will see this through.