When COVID-19 first hit in early 2020, avoiding all social settings was necessary. However, ordering groceries for delivery and getting take-out was always a placeholder, rather than the new normal. Dining out is a major social activity that has always been expected to return, even if it looks a bit different because of coronavirus. Is going to a restaurant during coronavirus really safe yet? Find out what the real COVID-19 risk factors are for those who decide to dine out.
Dining Out During Coronavirus
Standard safety practices are still in effect ⎼ washing hands, social distancing and wearing a high-quality, properly fitted mask are still necessary. Restaurants are opening for more than delivery and take-out because it’s been determined that going out to eat during coronavirus is safe with the proper precautions.
What does going out to eat during coronavirus really look like and how can people stay safe as they participate in social dining to reconnect with each other and the community?
What You Need To Know Before Dining Out During COVID-19
While we now understand more about the virus, as restaurants invite patrons back to in-person dining, there are still significant risks that everyone should be aware of:
- According to the CDC report, adults with COVID-19 are twice as likely to have eaten out in the two weeks prior to becoming ill.
- Drive-thru, takeout, delivery, and curbside pick-up are still the safest way to dine.
- On-site dining with socially distanced seating and reduced capacity is still considered medium- to high-level risk, whether indoor or outdoor seating is available.
- Eating out is still one of the higher risk activities people can participate in because it requires them to remove their masks ⎼ one of the top three primary safety precautions people around the world need to do in order to stay safe and healthy.
- In addition to the increased risk of COVID-19 exposure from airborne and aerosolized particles, those dining out also risk exposure as they touch surfaces that others are actively touching, such as plates, flatware, tabletops, and public restrooms.
How To Stay Safe While Dining Out During Coronavirus
If dining out is something you’ve decided to do, there are a number of ways to optimize your safety so you can enjoy your meal, the company, and what will likely feel like a novel experience:
- Evaluate the coronavirus situation in your area to be sure dining out is the best decision. If there are outbreaks or an increase in cases in your area, you might choose to hold off until infection rates return to a decreasing trend.
- Assess need vs. want. Even though the world is settling in and finding a certain comfort level living with COVID-19, the desire to return to normal is strong. Remember to ask if dining out is really the best decision at this time. Is there a safer way to socialize and spend time together?
- Check that seating is properly distanced, both before heading to your destination and also when you arrive. If it doesn’t look like distance is being properly maintained, ask someone to adjust the seating options or choose a different venue.
- While eating indoors and outdoors are both considered medium- and high-risk activities, it is generally accepted that choosing to eat on the patio or another outdoor location is the safer of the two options.
- Check that the restaurant is following and enforcing all pandemic rules. They should require everyone to wear masks unless seated at their table, waitstaff should wear masks and gloves at all times, menus and payments should be hands-free, and sanitizer should be available to everyone.
Everyone is looking forward to better days and a new normal as the pandemic progresses and our understanding of the virus evolves. Dining out during coronavirus is a way to recapture a sense of normalcy, socialize more, and even recapture a bit of nostalgia for pre-pandemic days. Just remember to take the proper precautions so you and your circle can remain safe and healthy.