Is it safer to gather outdoors or indoors when COVID-19 is spreading in my community?

June 12, 2022


COVID-19 infection spreads when people exhale droplets and particles containing the virus. They do this when speaking, coughing, exercising, sneezing and singing. These droplets and particles can hang in the air and when inhaled by others can result in infection.

But, outdoor settings make it easier and more likely to disperse the droplets and particles containing the coronavirus. This is largely due to airflow and meteorological conditions that essentially breakup the cloud of droplets and particles.

People also tend to keep greater distance between themselves during outdoor activities and social distancing remains an effective way to reduce the chances of contracting COVID-19.

That makes outdoor settings a better choice for gatherings if you want to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection.

However, research indicates that it’s still possible to be transmit COVID-19 in outdoor settings—especially during times of high community spread. Masks can help lower the risk of getting COVID-19 both indoors and outdoors.

Key Takeaways

  1. 1.

    When COVID-19 spreads in a community, gathering outdoors significantly lowers the disease’s risk.

  2. 2.

    The key when gathering outdoors is to avoid prolonged, close, interpersonal contact with others (otherwise known as social distancing).

  3. 3.

    When community spread is high, even folks engaging in outdoor activities with others should consider wearing masks.

  4. 4.

    Even folks engaging in outdoor activities with others should consider wearing masks when community spread is high.

Additional Resource

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Small and Large Gatherings