Is it safe to run, hike, bike or walk outside in public?

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San Francisco Mayor London Breed appeared on CNN's "The Situation Room" March 18 to respond to Jake Tapper's viral reaction to a viral video clip that showed people exercising in the city amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The clip showed people in San Francisco's Embarcadero roadway jogging and holding hands on the first day of the city's shelter-in-place order, which prompted a severe response from Tapper.

"There you see San Francisco's interpretation of a shelter in place," Tapper said of the March 17 video clip. "First of all, we see a whole lot of people here who are not distancing, they are holding hands and walking down the street and normally I'd say bravo, but this is actually kind of enraging."


So is it safe to run, hike, bike or walk outside in public?

While his concerns on distancing could be seen as warranted -- especially during the strict mandate recently enacted in San Francisco -- people in the U.S. are still allowed to go out and exercise as long as you keep a safe distance away from others.

"Take a walk” and “go for a hike” are on top of the Los Angeles County Public Health Department’s “safe-to-do” list, as the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread in the region, according to the Los Angeles Times.

A spokesman told the paper that “biking and running are great as long as not in a group where there is close contact.”

However, if you are sick, or believe you may have the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises you to stay at home, except to get medical care.

"Do not visit public areas," the agency says on its website.


If you aren't sick, those activities are fine as long as you practice social distancing, which helps to limit the spread of the virus. It's particularly important because the virus can still spread even when you don't have symptoms due to its estimated 14-day incubation period.

Social distancing is described as "deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness," according to Lisa Maragakis, the senior director of infection prevention at Johns Hopkins Medicine. An example of social distancing is canceling events that are likely to draw crowds.

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The agency says it spreads more frequently between people who are in close contact with one another (within 6 feet). Keeping away from that space lessens your chance of catching the virus.

"People in San Francisco are definitely permitted to go out, to run, to exercise, to ride bikes, this is not about a vacation," said San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in regards to the shelter-in-place mandate in the city. "We want you to only go out if absolutely necessary for essential services. The ultimate goal is to prevent people from contacting one another that could lead to the spread of the virus."


The mandate -- which went into effect on March 17 -- orders residents to avoid unnecessary travel and only leave their homes for food, medicine and exercise, according to county officials who made the announcement.

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