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Do I Have To Wear A Mask To Shop After Coronavirus Reopenings? Here's What To Know

Although coronavirus cases are continuing to rise around the U.S., some states have moved to re-opening restaurants, movie theaters, stores, and more, with some restrictions, of course. But as you go about in this post-quarantine coronavirus world, how can you practice the best safety measures? In short, you'll need to keep wearing masks when you shop during coronavirus reopenings. Among other safety measures, wearing a mask when you leave your house, and keeping it on until you return, is the best, most straightforward way to keep yourself and those around you safe if you end up having to leave.

Currently, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still recommends that you wear a cloth face mask in public settings, as well as when you’re around people you don’t live with. By wearing a mask, you greatly decrease the chances you have of both contracting and spreading the virus. “The mask acts as a barrier, capturing some of the expelled, virus-containing droplets, in effect reducing the amount of virus an infectious individual puts into the air,” Dr. Jeffrey Shaman, a professor of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University, tells Elite Daily. “For individuals who are not sick, the mask acts as a barrier, reducing opportunities for droplets and aerosols to enter the nose and mouth.”

Although it can’t be easily put into numbers exactly how much safer wearing a mask makes your public activities, Dr. Shaman does say that wearing a mask is “the single, most important personal and public health measure one can take when out for essential services.” Considering you’ll be in an enclosed space with strangers while shopping, look at a mask as an imperative — an essential part of maintaining public health. While you still should attempt to socially distance once in stores, a mask will help to slightly mitigate the risk if you're unable to. Even if you're in a city where masks aren't required, it's also important to pay close attention to each individual shop's policies, and to adhere to their guidelines closely, particularly about masks and distancing.

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As for when you can stop wearing a mask while shopping, that could be a while. Masks won’t be necessary “when the pandemic is effectively over — either because there is an effective vaccine or treatment that has been deployed, or because enough people have been infected that transmission is unlikely,” Dr. Shaman says. And even so, there may be surges of coronavirus at different points in the coming months that will make it so face masks will be imperative for longer. According to Biospace, the vaccine will probably take a year to 18 months until it is ready for safe, widespread use, so you'll probably be wearing your mask for at least most of 2021.

Showing courtesy for those around you and keeping yourself, your friends, and your family safe are all of the utmost importance, and the best way to promote this safety is by wearing your mask and keeping a safe distance from others. While shopping does put you in close quarters with others, you can still enjoy a shopping trip if you stay careful and alert.

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all Elite Daily's coverage of coronavirus here.