Every time an infected person coughs, sneezes, yawns, speaks or simply breathes, they emit respiratory droplets. And if those droplets are infected with coronavirus and get inhaled by others, everyone nearby may become infected.
If, however, the droplets merely fall to the ground or land on surfaces such as store shelves, an ATM machine, money, door handles, bathroom fixtures, counters, grocery carts, etc. those surfaces are now contaminated
Anyone who touches those contaminated surfaces -- and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth may become infected.
How long can the virus live on surfaces?
It appears that the coronavirus that lands on surfaces may remain active for hours, days or even weeks, depending on factors such as the surface material, air circulation, temperature, sunlight, amount of virus, etc.! (Traces of the coronavirus were found up to 17 days after passengers disembarked the Diamond Princess cruise ship.)