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Is In-Person Black Friday 2020 Shopping Safe? Here's What Experts Say

With November comes leaves changing and falling, Thanksgiving, and, perhaps most importantly for those who love shopping, Black Friday. However, nothing, even a shopping holiday, is the same in 2020. The coronavirus has changed so many facets of life, and with all the big crowds, enclosed spaces, and hoopla that Black Friday brings, there’s a lot to keep in mind when shopping in person. Before you hit up your favorite shops, you have to wonder if it's even safe to shop in person on Black Friday. The answer is not particularly.

Currently, COVID-19 cases are on the rise in the U.S.; As of Thursday, Nov. 5 new coronavirus cases tallied 121,888, breaking the previous single-day record, according to CNBC. "This virus spreads best inside and where there are lots of people. Black Friday is a time when there will be big crowds and, therefore, increased risks," Dr. John Swartzberg, MD, FACP, a clinical professor at UC Berkeley's School of Public Health, tells Elite Daily. Does this mean hitting up all the big-box stores on Black Friday and braving every single crowd isn't the best idea? Yes. Should you keep your shopping plans online, if you can? Also yes. However, it doesn't necessarily mean you have to cancel your IRL shopping plans all together. If you will be shopping in person, there are several precautions you should take.

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"One should absolutely be masked up and physically distancing from others," Dr. Rodney E. Rohde, PhD, MS, and Associate Director of Texas State University’s Translational Health Research, tells Elite Daily. "The research and epidemiology continue to show that masks work!" He also highlighted that hand hygiene, though always important, should also be diligently practiced before, during, and after your outing, Make sure you bring ample hand sanitizer with you, and of course, avoid touching your face if you can help it.

Even if you're masked up with hand sanitizer in tow, crowded, closed-in spaces are an easy place for the virus to spread. You should keep an eye out to see if the stores you're interested in are limiting the amount of customers allowed in the space at once. "Other more current research continues to show how important well-ventilated areas are, so be aware of your environment," Rohde says. "Try to avoid small, cramped stores with too many people inside. I look for larger areas to shop and where there is less foot traffic in general." Dr. also Rohde suggests shopping at off-peak times to mitigate the risk of crowds.

Still, a mask, hand sanitizer, and a less-crowded store may not completely eliminate the risk. Integrating more online shopping into your Black Friday plans can help take some of that guesswork out.

Saying that blank is going to be different in 2020 has become a bit of a cliché, but it's true. In order to shop IRL as safe as possible come Nov. 27, you'll have to jump through some extra hoops. And it's crucial you do so for the sake of your health, that of your loved ones, and that of the immunocompromised.

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.

Sources cited:

Dr. Rodney E. Rohde, PhD, MS, and Associate Director of Texas State University’s Translational Health Research