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Crowds Can Still Be 'A Risk' For COVID Transmission Even Outside, Tufts Doctor Says

BOSTON, MA (CBS) – Boston's St. Anthony's Feast is a celebration rich in tradition, known for the Italian music, food and the large crowds it attracts to the North End.

"We used to come as a family so it's great to bring my family, really nice to keep the tradition going," said Boston resident Benjamin Aiken.

With the Delta variant among us, Tufts Medical Center epidemiologist, Dr. Shira Doron, says people shouldn't be concerned about outdoor events – depending on the crowd.

"Those shoulder-to-shoulder types of events where you can actually get into really close contact, face-to-face, breathing someone else's air directly -- that's a lot different," said Dr. Doron. "That's a risk."

Some feast-goers saw the packed streets and decided to mask up outdoors, while others kept a face mask on hand.

"In larger situations where we feel uncomfortable, we tend to have our mask available," said Mehgan Aiken.

Dr. Doron said outdoor events are always safer compared to ones inside.

"Anytime you're spending outside is time you're not inside doing something that's more risky," she said.

The state's high vaccination rate, Dr. Doron explains, adds an extra layer of protection against transmission.

"I think we're still here in Massachusetts in a time where people can and should make individual decisions about their own personal preference because we're not in a situation where our hospitals are overwhelmed with COVID-19."

For the Aiken family, who are both vaccinated against the Coronavirus, it's important to be vigilant. They told WBZ-TV that it's also important to enjoy a night out.

"I don't feel uncomfortable at all, especially since we're outside. We feel like we've done our part," said Benjamin Aiken.

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