Shopping poses the biggest threat to Covid outside the home, Sage researchers say

The greatest risk of catching Covid-19 outside the home comes from shopping, according to a new study published by experts in the Sage Committee.

It finds it stores pose a greater threat than theaters, cinemas, sporting events, public transport and the workplace when no restrictions are in place – and is second only to public transport when strict restrictions are imposed.

The study also found that stores accounted for the largest number of Covid-19 cases outside the home, whether or not there are restrictions.

“Both during periods of intense and no restrictions, shopping accounted for the highest proportion of infections acquired outside the home,” according to the newspaper, dated December 20, by Dr. Susan Hopkins of the British Health Security Agency and Imperial College London, and Professor Andrew Hayward of University College London.

“Going to work and using public transportation were also important predictors of infection,” it added.

The data for the paper comes from Virus Watch study conducted by UCL and the NHS.

The newspaper looked at various non-household activities for 10,849 people over the age of 16 during the second wave of the pandemic from October 2020 to April 2021, where there were significant restrictions in place, and in September and November 2021, where there were no restrictions in place.

It found that in times of severe restrictions, shopping more than once a week increased the risk of becoming infected with Covid-19 by 69 percent, while using public transportation more than once a week increased the risk by 82 percent.

Working in the office instead of from home, meanwhile, increased the risk by 20 percent.

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But in the period without restrictions, using slightly different data parameters, the study showed that a weekly store increased the risk by 218 percent – as people stopped wearing masks, walked along busy shopping streets and stood in line at stores that are often bad ventilated and which many people can pass through.

In the unrestricted scenario, the use of public transport more than once a week increased the risk by 28 percent – with buses the most dangerous, which increased the risk by 31 percent. Taxis then came in at 19 percent, followed by underground trains at 18 percent, and there was “no evidence” that underground trains were less safe.

Working from the office at this time increased the risk by 20 percent – the same as when there were restrictions.

The relative risk of different activities changed between lockdown and relaxation because people’s behaviors change in different scenarios, while restrictions have more impact on some activities than others, scientists suggest.

For example, while many people stayed away from public transportation when the rules were repealed, making vehicles empty, people had to continue to buy basic goods at about the same speed and make purchases that they may have deferred at the height of Lockdown.

The study also showed that in the period without restrictions, going to a restaurant or cafe once increased the risk by 29 percent – about the same level as going to the pub, fitness center, a club or a party. Practicing sports outside increased the risk by 36 per cent.

Meanwhile, the researchers found “there was no good evidence of increased risk by attending cinemas, theaters, concerts or indoor sporting events or for beauty services”.

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