Is It Safe to Dine Out? Here’s What You Should Know.
Restaurants around the country are reopening, and some are operating at 50 percent
capacity. But before you rush out the door, remember that the opening of some businesses
doesn’t mean that COVID-19 has disappeared or that it’s any less dangerous than it was a
few months ago.
Even though local governments across the U.S. are gradually reopening, recommendations
for social distancing, wearing face masks in public, and taking other precautionary steps are
still in place. If you plan to venture out, following these tips could help ensure your safety.
First, assess your risk
It’s important to contemplate whether you should be going out in the first place. Factors to
- Your age: Older people (over 65-years-old) are at higher risk for more serious cases of
COVID-19 and related complications.
- Your overall health: If you have underlying conditions—such as lung disease, diabetes,
heart disease, diabetes, obesity, or a compromised immune system—getting COVID-
19 could be particularly dangerous.
- Your community: How widespread is the disease in the place where you live? Are
cases rising or on the decline?
Do your homework
Before grabbing a bite to eat, it pays to do a little research. Search online or call the
restaurant with a few simple questions: What changes have you made to cleaning and
disinfecting protocols? Is outdoor seating available and how far apart are tables situated? Are
staff members wearing face coverings and taking steps to ensure good hygiene?
Come prepared to the restaurant. Bring a bottle of hand sanitizer, plus a packet of disinfecting
wipes. And, of course, wear a cloth face covering.
Limit touch points
To limit surfaces touched by others, ask for individual condiment containers or packets. Avoid
handling reusable menus unless they are disinfected between uses; best practices are
chalkboards posted on the wall or single-use printouts.
Wash your hands
Before your food arrives, visit the restroom to give your hands a good 20-second scrub with
soap and water. If the line to the bathroom is too long or the facility isn’t stocked properly, use
a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
When your food arrives
People spread more particles that can transmit the virus by talking than while eating and
drinking, according to Harris. So wear your mask until your food or drink comes, then stash
the mask in a clean place—not on your table or chair or other communal surfaces.
Make a clean getaway
The longer you stay in close quarters with people outside your bubble, the higher the chances
for transmission of COVID-19. When it’s time to pay the bill, ask about touchless payment
options. Drop cash or credit cards on a tray to avoid direct contact, and bring your own pen to
sign the check.
Dining out is a luxury many of us haven’t experienced in a while. While doing so inevitably
loosens some social distancing measures, be sure to take your prevention techniques with