The coronavirus is most transmissible in poorly ventilated indoor spaces, where the aerosolized virus can linger in the air before latching onto our nasal or bronchial cells. In outdoor areas, the viral spray is more likely to disperse. One systematic overview of COVID-19 case studies concluded that the risk of transmission was 19 times higher indoors than outside. That’s why wearing a mask is so important in, say, a CVS, but less crucial in, say, the park.
At the restaurant, however, I saw an inversion of this rule. Person after person who’d dutifully worn a mask on the uncrowded street took it off to sit still, in close proximity to friends, and frequently inside. I felt like I was watching people put on their seatbelts in parked cars, then unbuckle them just as they put the vehicle in drive.
I’m still gonna wear masks when I’m out of my apartment most of the time, even after being fully vaccinated, for a few reasons:
- I feel better these days when I see someone wearing a mask, so I’ll wear one myself
- In NYC, people like standing deep inside other people’s personal space, so masks make even more sense here
- In the Winter, they helped with the cold; now in the Spring, they’re helping with pollen
- Regardless of the situation, a mask just might help prevent another person from getting sick
That being said, yeah taking into account what we know about the virus, outdoor mask mandates aren’t very necessary. But it probably still helps the situation though.