Going shopping raises risk of catching Covid more than getting on Tube

Playing outdoor sports, going to the gym and shopping raise the risk of catching Covid more than getting on a Tube, tram or train, researchers find

  • University College London tracked people’s activities before ‘Plan B’ curbs
  • Found risk of catching Covid was highest when shopping or playing team sports
  • No evidence of increased risk for people on Tube trains or attending the theatre
  • Researchers surveyed over 10,000 people between September and November 
  • Going shopping poses a bigger risk of catching Covid than theatres, sporting events or public transport, a new study suggests.

    It could be expected that getting onto a Tube train or sitting in an audience to watch a musical would most increase your chance of catching the virus.

    But research by University College London (UCL) found there was little evidence that these activities were more likely to cause infection.

    The study, which followed 10,849 people between September and November last year, found shopping could more than double your chance of catching the virus.

    Going shopping poses a bigger risk of catching Covid than theatres, sporting events or public transport, a new study by University College London suggests

    Going shopping poses a bigger risk of catching Covid than theatres, sporting events or public transport, a new study by University College London suggests

    The other activities most likely to raise the risk of infection outside the home were playing in a team sport outdoors (36 per cent), going to the gym (27 per cent) and going to an indoor pub, club or bar (28 per cent).

    Using public transport more than once a week increased the risk by 28 per cent – with buses the most dangerous, increasing the risk by 31 per cent.

    Taxis came next, at 19 per cent, followed by overground trains, at 18 per cent.

    There was however little to no evidence that underground trains were any less safe.

    There was no good evidence of any increased risk for people who attended theatres, cinemas, concerts or sports events. Pictured: A masked audience at the Pavilion theatre in Weymouth

    There was no good evidence of any increased risk for people who attended theatres, cinemas, concerts or sports events. Pictured: A masked audience at the Pavilion theatre in Weymouth

    The study into infections, which were recorded by participants with lateral flow or PCR tests, came before the government brought in tighter Covid curbs when Boris Johnson announced his ‘Plan B’ strategy – which included making face masks compulsory.

    There was no good evidence of any increased risk for people who attended theatres, cinemas, concerts or sports events.

    Visiting a hairdresser, nail salon or a beauty parlour also appeared to have no impact on infection rates.

    The study, which followed 10,849 people between September and November last year, found shopping could more than double your chance of catching the virus

    The study, which followed 10,849 people between September and November last year, found shopping could more than double your chance of catching the virus

    Presenting their results to the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), Prof Andrew Hayward and Dr Susan Hoskins of UCL said: ‘Both during periods of intense restrictions and no restrictions shopping accounted for the highest proportion of infections acquired outside the home.

    ‘Going to Work and Public transport use were also important predictors of infection. Intense restrictions largely prevented transmission in hospitality, entertainment, beauty services and sports during the second wave of the pandemic.

    ‘During a period of no restrictions parties, hospitality were associated with increased risk indoors but not outdoors.

    ‘Participating in sports indoors or outdoors was associated with increased risk (although this may relate to associated social activities).

    ‘There was no good evidence of increased risk from attending cinemas, theatres, concerts or indoor sports events or for beauty services.’