Touring during a pandemic: What’s the risk?

The only surefire way to not contract COVID-19 is to isolate completely. The CDC and World Health Organization still recommend staying at home as much as possible. But for those who are considering an activity-filled day in Atlanta, here are the potential risks. 

The CDC ranks an activity’s risk level into four broad categories: low risk, more risk, higher risk and highest risk. 

Low-risk activities are gatherings that are held entirely online. More risk activities are described as “smaller outdoor and in-person gatherings” where people who do not live together social distance, wear masks and avoid shared objects.

Higher risk activities include any “medium-sized” in-person event where attendees can consistently maintain six feet of distance. Highest risk activities are large in-person events where attendees cannot always preserve social distance and interact with people from outside the local area. 

Indoor activities are riskier than outdoor events, as air ventilation is lower indoors, and there is evidence suggesting the virus that causes COVID-19 can linger in the air.

Activities outside of one’s residing community are more dangerous than ones they live in. If a tourist from a virus hotspot visits an area with low community spread, they could contribute to asymptomatic spread and infect those around them.

The riskiest activities are where mask-wearing and social distancing cannot always be maintained, as those two precautions are the most basic safety measures the CDC recommends. 

In an attempt to recreate the social atmosphere that once existed before the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants, hotels and some of Atlanta’s famous tourist attractions are open to the public. 

Every aspect of Atlanta’s once nonstop tourism looks very different during a pandemic. Almost all facilities have introduced new hours, enforced CDC guidelines to their best ability and new ways to experience the tourism industry in Atlanta. 

High Museum


  • 1280 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta, GA 30309
  • General Admission price: $14.50
  • Low to more risk
  • Masks required
  • Social distancing encouraged


The High Museum of Art is a major Atlanta attraction that welcomes local college students, tourists from out of state, public school field trips and family day trips. 

After a multi-month hiatus, the High has reopened and requires guests to schedule ticket times to monitor museum capacity. Temperature checks will not be administered, but the museum asks that “visitors monitor their own health by taking their temperature prior to leaving their home.” 

The museum abides by CDC guidelines by requiring face masks before entering and promoting social distancing while inside the museum. 

Other services offered by the museum that would involve close contact, such as coat check and dining options, are closed. Since the museum is indoors, it is imperative to consider that indoor activities are riskier than outdoor ones due to decreased air ventilation and increased difficulty maintaining six feet of distance. 

Six Flags Over Georgia


  • 275 Riverside Pkwy, Austell, GA 30168
  • General Admission price: $34.99
  • Park operations on weekends only
  • More to higher risk
  • Masks required except at waterpark
  • Temperature checks at door
  • Social distancing encouraged


Amusement parks are the epitome of summertime fun, and due to COVID-19, like most other things, the experience of amusement parks has drastically changed. Six Flags and other amusement parks are outdoors, decreasing the certainty that masks will be worn at all times. 

The CDC labels amusement parks as a “more risk” activity, but only if the strictest precautions are enforced. If these precautions are disregarded, Six Flags could be a “higher risk” activity. 

Precautions include patrons and employees maintaining social distance and wearing a mask at all times and frequently sanitizing high touchpoints. The Six Flags water parks are open, but guests are not required to wear masks. It is imperative to remain six feet away from other people in and out of the water.

Six Flags also created designated “mask break zones” for guests. With these policies, guests must rely heavily on social distancing to decrease their risk of spreading or contracting the virus.

Despite the risks and the possibility that all COVID-19 guidelines may not be strictly enforced by park management, GSU Spotlight plans to host Georgia State night at Six Flags on September 18.

Georgia Aquarium 


  • 225 Baker St. NW, Atlanta GA 30313
  • General Admission price: $32.95
  • Low to more risk
  • Masks and temperature check required
  • Social distancing encouraged


The Georgia Aquarium reopened in June and debuted several COVID-19 safety measures. 

Precautions employed by the aquarium include exclusively online ticket purchases, mandatory temperature checks, reduced building capacity and masks required for the entirety of the visit. If a guest does not have a mask, one will be given to them. 

The aquarium designates guests to enter through a particular entrance of the building, depending on their ticket time to abide by social distancing rules. The risk of contracting or spreading the virus at Georgia Aquarium is similar to the risk of visiting the High Museum.

World of Coca-Cola


  • 121 Baker St. NW, Atlanta, GA 30313
  • Low to more risk
  • Masks required
  • Social distancing encouraged
  • Temperature checks at door


The World of Coca-Cola, better known as the World of Coke, is one of Atlanta’s most well known tourist attractions, being the home of one of the world’s largest corporations. World of Coke has made some modifications to the experience of the attraction to accommodate the COVID-19 pandemic.

Guests are required to wear a mask at all times, buy tickets online and visit World of Coke during their assigned ticket time to keep building capacity low. 

Other modifications include the closure of the Coca-Cola Theater, where a Coca-Cola film was once played for hundreds of audience members. Visitors can only take pictures with the Coca-Cola Polar Bear with their own camera.

World of Coke’s most famous feature, the Taste It! room, where Coke products from all over the globe were available for patrons to try, has been modified. Guests can visit the room during their visiting time in groups of six or fewer, and a Coca-Cola Ambassador will bring guests the drinks to try. 

The risk of visiting the World of Coke is similar to the risk of visiting any other indoor museum. Social distancing, mask-wearing and decreased ventilation are factors for guests to consider.



  • Higher to highest risk
  • Masks required except when eating or drinking
  • Social distancing encouraged


Concerts have not returned just yet, but the Coca-Cola Roxy plans on hosting live events in the near future, having recently announced its “Clean Concert Experience” to accommodate the COVID-19 pandemic in future shows. 

Stipulations of the experience include a broad statement of “following CDC and local health guidelines,” contactless payment, staff clad in masks and gloves, social distancing and thorough sanitizing of the event space. The Coca-Cola Roxy will mandate face coverings for guests except while they are eating or drinking. 

It is not clear when the Roxy will allow concerts to make a comeback, but they are actively preparing for future events. This may be a tricky feat to execute for the Roxy, as eating and drinking are allowed and will permit guests to remove their masks while being indoors with other people.



  • More risk to higher risk
  • Mask required except when eating or drinking
  • Social distancing encouraged


Many restaurants have reopened their dining rooms to guests. Luckily, there is little to no evidence that proves virus transmission via food exists. 

Most restaurants follow some CDC guidelines by limiting building capacity and closing off tables that are within six feet of each other. Most patrons will not be wearing a mask while eating or drinking. But if one dines at a restaurant, it is important to choose to eat at a restaurant that enforces other CDC guidelines besides socially distanced tables.

Restaurants can minimize the risk of virus transmission by not using reusable items such as menus, condiments and silverware, implementing touchless payment options and disinfecting the restaurant often. When inside at a restaurant, observe the staff and their adherence to CDC guidelines. Staff should be wearing a mask and gloves at all times, especially when handling food. 

Lowest risk dining options include takeout, drive-thru and curbside pickup from local restaurants.



  • More risk
  • Mask required in shared areas
  • Social distancing encouraged


The level of risk associated with staying overnight at a hotel depends entirely on the company’s policies regarding the virus. 

Guests should wear a mask in common areas and call ahead and inquire what precautions are enforced. Total compliance with CDC guidelines would include mobile keys, online check-in and removal or constant disinfecting of frequently touched items.

It is also essential to consider that overnight lodging means entering a community that may have higher transmission rates and being in close contact with other people who come from other cities. CDC guidelines also include social distancing and mask-wearing in elevators and other shared spaces within the establishment.

All facilities make it clear that visitors should observe their health and be aware of the risks they are taking before visiting, as establishments in Georgia are not legally liable for severe illness or death of any patrons.