Pool parties. Backyard barbecues. Hiking in a state park. Trips to see the grandparents. Celebrated summer traditions all, and the urge to jump right in can be overwhelming, especially after months of a closed economy and self-imposed quarantine.

But what’s safe, or safer, in a pandemic? What are the risks, and how do you balance the risks with the benefits? How can you lower the risk?

Two UT Health San Antonio faculty members — Fred C. Campbell, MD, and Maria Fernandez Falcon, MD — offered ideas and perspective on partaking in some of those favorite summer activities, with the least amount of risk, this summer of COVID-19.

But first, the doctors agreed on three things.

First, if you have symptoms or have been in contact with someone who has the virus, stay at home. You shouldn’t be going anywhere.

Second, this is the new normal. Until the virus is controlled, possibly within a year to 18 months, we have to learn to live with it.

And third, there’s no such thing as zero risk. But no matter the particular situation, risk is reduced by practicing social distancing, wearing a mask and frequent hand washing.

Going out to dinner: Risk varies. If possible, always sit outdoors, as the risk of transmission is far less than indoors. It’s a matter of ventilation, as droplets are a main form of transmission. And the number of people makes a difference. “At 25% capacity I’d say the risk was low,” said Dr. Campbell, an internal medicine physician and associate professor of medicine. “At 50% capacity I’d say the risk is moderate. Anything above that would be high risk.” The restaurant should also take steps to reduce the risk, such as instituting distancing, eliminating buffets, erecting barriers between tables and using one-time condiment packages and throwaway paper menus.

Having a family get-together at your house: Low risk. “If you have a party outside and you’re following social distancing, it’s far better than a party inside,” said Dr. Fernandez Falcon, a pediatrician with infectious disease expertise and assistant professor/clinical in family and community medicine. “Everyone should wash their hands often, have hand sanitizer, have one person in charge of serving all the food rather than more people, don’t share utensils. It’s hard with kids, but parents should be modeling that behavior.”

Going to a nightclub or bar: High risk. “Number one, people are drinking. They’re not thinking about their proximity to other people,” said Dr. Campbell. “These are places where people go to socialize. There are a lot of psychological factors plus the addition of alcohol that make those places high-risk regardless of what they might say about social distancing.”

Sending kids to a summer camp: Generally low-risk, if …: Parents should do their homework and make sure the camps are as safe as possible. “My kids are going to summer camp and the camp is following the recommendations and guidelines of the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention),” said Dr. Fernandez Falcon. “They’re checking temperatures, asking questions, parents and outsiders can’t go into the buildings, there are smaller groups for different activities, they take turns going to the pool, they practice social distancing. The risk gets lower if you follow the rules.”

Getting on an airplane: High risk. “Only if absolutely necessary,” said Dr. Fernandez Falcon. “If I can avoid traveling, I will.” Dr. Campbell agreed. “An airplane right now is probably the worst situation you can be in because you cannot get up and leave an airplane,” he said. “As much as the airlines are telling us that they’re trying to protect us, there’s no way you can control the behavior of someone else during that flight. You could conceivably be exposed to several people who are highly infectious.”

Going to a community pool, beach or state park: Generally low risk. Again, outdoor activities are much safer and, in fact, good for you. Assuming the CDC guidelines are being followed, the risk is low. However, Dr. Campbell recalled the photos and footage of packed beaches in Florida, California, Texas and elsewhere. So be wary. Watch your surroundings and the numbers of people. Do what you need to do to stay safe.

Staying in a hotel: Low risk. The risk of being exposed to the virus goes way down once you’re in your room. Try to limit time spent in common areas such as gyms and, again, bars.

The bottom line, Drs. Campbell and Fernandez Falcon agreed, is that transmission risk increases in large crowds and indoor spaces. And the risk goes up the more time you spend and the closer you are physically to an infected person.

CDC information and guidelines