Outdoor events are safer from COVID-19 — but can still be risky

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Posted at 7:08 PM, Aug 18, 2021

CINCINNATI — Country superstar Garth Brooks may have canceled his Cincinnati show in light of rising COVID-19 case numbers, but Reds games, outdoor concerts and festivals continue to draw large crowds across Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.

How safe is it to attend?

Dr. Joe Gastaldo, an infectious disease expert from Ohio Health, said outdoor gatherings are always less risky than their indoor counterparts. But being in close quarters with other people at an outdoor concert, baseball game or other event still provides opportunities for the virus to spread.

“If you are outdoors on top of each other, to the point where you could actually smell someone smoking a cigarette or perhaps someone’s body odor, that’s really too close,” he said. “If you are outdoors and you can’t physically distance and people are next to each other in a public situation, you should be wearing a mask regardless of your vaccination status.”

Some local venues, including Icon Music Center, Riverbend, Taft Theater and PNC Pavilion, will require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for admission starting in October.

Gastaldo said he predicts these requirements will spread to sports venues such as Great American Ball Park and TQL Stadium.

TQL, at least, had no plans to implement a vaccination or COVID-test requirement by Wednesday afternoon. An FC Cincinnati spokesperson said the team continues to encourage vaccination for fans and discuss best practices daily.

Gastaldo believes those best practices could soon include some form of screening for visitors.

“It's happening now in private businesses, and I do see that happening, too, with sporting events,” he said. "I do see it turning into a situation where if you are not vaccinated, there's going to be fewer things that you could do.“