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Are some indoor venues safer than others? Cinemas are, says Berlin COVID-19 study

24 June

A new research study titled – Covid-19 contagion via aerosol particles – a comparative evaluation of indoor environments – by scientists at the Berlin Institute of Technology (TU Berlin) / Hermann-Rietschel-Institut in Germany has concluded that cinemas are safer than almost any other indoor environment when safety guidelines are being followed.

Significantly, the study finds that the risk of COVID-19 transmission is far lower in cinemas than in supermarkets, restaurants, offices, or public transport.

Led by Martin Kriegel and Anne Hartmann, the research conducted a comparison of indoor environments to assess the risk of infection via aerosol particles. The study takes into account the average length of stay in a given space (two hours at a cinema; eight hours in an office; one hour in a supermarket; etc.), the quality of the airflow, the type of activity carried out in the space, and the dose of aerosol particles inhaled by people in a room, among other variables.

Each environment has been given an R-value, indicating the number of people on average that could potentially be vulnerable if a COVID-19 case was present.

Figure 1: Comparative presentation of typical indoor situations

The study says that researchers found that with proper precautions, cinemas are safer than any other activity. In cinemas, the R-value stands at 0.5 compared to 0.6 in hair salons, 0.8 in public transportation, 1.1 in shopping centres and 2.3 in restaraunts.

The research also suggests that museums are just as safe as cinemas, so we agree with our good friend Indiana on this one.


Kriegal, M & Hartmann, A 2021, COVID-19 contagion via aerosol particles – Comparative evaluation of indoor spaces with regard to the situational R-value, The Technical University of Berlin, Berlin.

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