Objective The controlling of the COVID-19 pandemic is influenced by the precautionary behavior of the community, and such behavior is frequently related to individuals’ risk perception. The current study aimed to explore risk perceptions and precautionary behavior in response to COVID-19. Method Qualitative in-depth interviews by telephone were undertaken with 26 participants from three affected cities in an initial stage of the disease outbreak, from May 3 to June 5, 2020. The method of analyzing data was inductive. The results were analyzed using interpretation, categorizing, and thematic analysis. Results The perception of risk is influenced by numerous individual, community, and cultural factors; these perceptions act as triggers for precautionary behavior, with a tendency to deny risks or react with exaggeration in terms of the precautionary reactions related to COVID-19. The thematic analysis produced two major categories: 1) risk perception and 2) precautionary behavior. The analysis provides essential insight into risk perception and precautionary behavior. Conclusion The risk perceptions and patterns of precautionary behavior could be unreliable, unhealthy, and culturally affected, which would influence the effectiveness of pandemic control measures. Further investigations with more data and including risk perception and precautionary behavior in the national response plan for emergency and crisis are highly recommended. Practice implications A greater understanding and ongoing assessment of COVID-19 risk perception could inform policymakers and health professionals who seek to promote precautionary behavior. This could also facilitate early interventions during pandemics.