Can I eat in a restaurant? Go to the gym? Tips on COVID-19 protection as cities continue reopening

Staff photo by Troy Stolt / John Westbrook waits outside of Hixson Barber Shop on Wednesday, May 6, 2020 in Hixson, Tenn.

With cities and states across the country continuing to ease restrictions that were designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, health experts are warning people to stay safe and remain physically distant.

On Monday, Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger urged people to wear masks when in public, as health officials fear people are not taking the virus seriously enough.

"We know that if we're going to minimize the risk to people in our community, if we're going to minimize the spread in our community, the masks are extremely important," Coppinger said.

The coronavirus travels on respiratory droplets released when someone coughs, sneezes or even speaks. Masks help block some of those droplets from getting out into the air and potentially infecting someone else.

Beyond wearing a mask, there are other safety precautions people should take to reduce the risk of being infected or infecting others, said Erin Bromage, associate professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.