It sounds like a big question that we need to answer is the relative risk of infection in which everybody is seated facing the same direction (e.g., airplanes, movie theaters, sports events, school buses, barber chairs, country line dancing) as opposed to venues with people facing each other (restaurants, cocktail parties, some subways, waltzing).
My guess is that uni-directional facing is somewhat less risky than facing together or in semi-random directions like a NYC subway. If you cough, you cough into the back of the person’s head in front of you rather than into his face.
Another question is how important is the height of the seatback? For example, airliners have tall seats, while yellow school buses have low seats.
Also, what is more risky in a unidirectional facing situation: side to side transmission or back to front transmission? E.g., would you rather have an empty seat directly behind you or to the side of you?
As I’ve been pointing out for a long time now, the economic collapse isn’t solely because of government mandated shutdowns, but also because of choices made by consumers and businesses about their perceptions of risk. Therefore, we need more good research into levels of risk in different situations, and clever ideas for how to mitigate the risks.
It would do the economy a lot of good for the public to have more reliable information on what activities are relatively low risk and what are high risk, so that low risk businesses aren’t needlessly harmed, and higher risk businesses can set about making helpful changes.
Airlines, which have been running lots of practically empty flights lately at huge cost to themselves, are now starting to cut the number of flights severely, which means that the ones they do run tend to be much more crowded than they were a few weeks ago.
There has been vague talk about how to mitigate risk in assigned seating venues like airliners by distancing people in their seats, which would require running at less than full capacity.
Say a one aisle airliner has 40 rows with 6 seats across in each row for a capacity of 240. Which of the following distanced seating plan would make you more comfortable relative to capacity reduction?
A. Skipping middle seats (P for Passenger, X for blocked off)
For 2/3 of full capacity
B. Skipping every other row:
For 50% capacity
C. Alternating patterns by row:
for 50% capacity
D. Alternating by seat and by row:
for 33% capacity.
Or some other clever plan?