Delta variant: can I get infected outdoors?

With increasing vaccination breakthroughs and rising corona numbers, many people are concerned. Politicians are trying to counteract the fourth wave. Christmas markets and other major events are being canceled or only carried out under a 2G Plus rule. But how high is the risk of infection with the infectious Delta variant outdoors and what should you watch out for?

Corona infection: The risk of infection outdoors is so high

According to initial studies, the risk of infection indoors is 19 times higher than outdoors. Nevertheless, a corona infection can also occur outside. Distance rules and the obligation to wear a mask should therefore not be ignored when there is close contact outdoors, despite the low risk of infection.

The lower aerosol load outside is responsible for the low risk of infection. Aerosols are particles that are carried and transported by the air. The aerosol particles are generally small and light and, depending on their composition, can remain for many hours or days, during which time they can travel long distances.

With the Delta variant, however, the risk of infection outdoors could increase. The American health authority equates the risk of infection with  chickenpox  . The increased infectivity also favors infections outdoors and vaccinated people.

Virus-laden aerosol particles are released by sneezing and  coughing  , but can also be generated by normal breathing, speaking, singing, or whispering. Therefore, normal breathing also plays an important role in the transmission of a corona infection. In order to reduce the risk of corona infection, a minimum distance of 1.5 meters to the opposite is recommended.

The constant air circulation outdoors can dissolve the aerosol particles and thus significantly reduce the risk of corona infection.

Delta: risk of infection at Christmas markets

The city of Munich has already canceled the  Christmas  market on Marienplatz, and according to the current status, other privately run markets are to be held in compliance with the 2G Plus rule. The risk of infection with the Delta variant can thus be reduced, but not completely ruled out. It is now clear that infected people who have been vaccinated can also transmit the virus to other people who have been vaccinated and that the rapid corona tests are often falsely negative. The virus can be spread despite double caution.

If you still don’t want to miss out on a visit to the Christmas market, you should follow the AHA rules and the obligation to wear a mask. However, the safest option would be to enjoy punch,  mulled wine  and  roasted almonds  at home with the family.

Delta variant: Risk of infection in ski areas

The ski areas in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy are already open or, according to the current status (November 17, 2021), will soon start the ski season. In most ski areas, the 2G rule applies and masks are compulsory in the waiting areas as well as in gondolas and lifts.

The risk of infection on the slopes themselves is low, since the distances can be reliably maintained there and the risk of infection in outdoor sports is relatively lower.

Gondolas, lifts and ticket sales pose a higher risk of infection. Distance rules and masks should apply in gondolas and lifts. For example, gondolas should only be filled two-thirds or half to ensure distances.

Corona infection: risk of infection during sport

According to an Irish study, only one in 1,000 corona infections is due to outdoor activity or sport.

Although athletes breathe in and out deeply and thus release more particles, it is enough to keep the minimum distance and clearly limit the contact times. Contact sports such as basketball or football and jogging outdoors therefore have a low risk of infection.

It is important to avoid unnecessary accumulation of people, for example in changing rooms or  showers , and to avoid close contact during training and during breaks.

The extent to which the risk of infection increases with the Delta variant during sport is still unclear.

Corona infection when walking: how high is the risk?

The risk of infection when walking is estimated to be very low. The constant movement prevents the formation of an aerosol cloud. However, steady wind can promote transmission, so you should change direction or switch sides.

In addition, the sun’s rays can reduce the risk of infection, since corona viruses are particularly sensitive to UV radiation and the virus-laden aerosol particles can be eliminated more quickly. The power of the sun is significantly higher in the spring and summer months than in autumn and winter.

Sufficient distance from the person you are talking to can minimize the risk of becoming infected with the delta variant. Nevertheless, the virus variant should not be underestimated.

Outdoor gastronomy: Risk of infection in beer gardens and cafés

In order to prevent the risk of infection in the beer garden or outdoor catering, it is advisable not to sit downwind or in the constant draft of another table.

In addition, a distance should also be maintained with the conversation partner at the table, ideally across the table. If you smell someone  else’s perfume or aftershave, you are more likely to inhale the other person’s aerosols. Therefore, also pay attention to the direction and distance of the draft, which could promote the spread of the aerosols.

Since the Delta variant also increases the risk of infection five times outdoors, the distance to adjacent tables and conversation partners should be maintained. To reduce risk, everyone involved should be vaccinated, tested, or recovered.

Corona infection at a picnic: change sides more often

When meeting together on park benches or having a beer on the picnic blanket after work, it is advisable to keep a sufficient distance from the person you are talking to and to prevent the aerosol cloud.

If you want to be on the safe side, you can take your own small blanket with you to ensure sufficient distance from the other person. The same applies here – there is also a higher risk of infection outdoors.

Clubbing outdoors – increased risk of infection

While common sense and the thought of distance rules usually play a part when going for a walk or picnic together, many people lose their inhibitions when partying – distance rules, the obligation to wear masks or  Corona  per se are taking a back seat.

The result: The risk of infection increases, and the 3G rule usually doesn’t change that – at an open-air festival in Holland, for example, 1,000 visitors* became infected with the Delta variant.

What is particularly dangerous about the virus variant is that the viral load of infected people is very high, especially in the first few days. Those who have been vaccinated usually have no symptoms and pass the virus on to others.

Visit to the football stadium – with sufficient distance

 The stadium capacity is not yet fully utilized due to the risk of infection and the  pandemic . Viruses are released into the air, especially when singing or shouting – the risk of infection is increased. With the Delta variant, the risk of infection increases further. Despite vaccination or the 3G rule, the necessary distances and masks are recommended.


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