Senseless Restrictions on Outdoor Activities Undermine the Goal of Curbing Covid-19

By arbitrarily foreclosing relatively safe social and recreational options, politicians encourage defiance, resentment, and riskier substitutes.

by Jacob Sullum

Nearly a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, many questions about the virus that causes the disease, including the infection fatality rate, the significance of mutations, and the efficacy of lockdowns, remain controversial. But epidemiologists and public health specialists have reached a consensus on at least one point: The risk of virus transmission is much lower in outdoor settings than it is indoors, especially when the latter spaces are poorly ventilated, crowded, and occupied by people who are expelling a lot of respiratory droplets by talking, singing, coughing, or sneezing. Yet some state and local governments have responded to the ongoing surge in newly identified infections by imposing irrational restrictions on outdoor activities that are bound to test the patience of Americans as they try to “hang in there” until vaccines are widely available.

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