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Dining Out In COVID-19 Times | FAQ | Consumers & Restaurants

As restaurants and bars reopen to the public, both, the excitement to get back to normal and the chances of contracting the coronavirus increase. Given that you can’t wear a mask while eating or drinking and will be seated in compact areas with back-to-back seating, social distancing will be a challenge.

So, what should you be on the lookout for and how can you, as a consumer, and the restaurant mitigate the risk? Here are some typical queries and their solutions

What is the ideal distance between tables and barstools in restaurants during COVID-19 times?

The "6-foot" social distancing rule is based on research about how far respiratory viruses can travel when droplets are separated by 6 feet. Particles will especially move further if a fan or current is created in a closed environment, such as a restaurant. The closer the distance and the greater the time someone is exposed to a person who is infectious, the greater the risk. Bottom line is, maintain a minimum of 6 feet distance to create a safe space around yourself. 

Distance between Tables and barstools while dining out in COVID-19 times

Is it enough if the servers wear masks during COVID-19 times?

Although waiters wearing masks provide an additional degree of security, but since customers eat and converse without masks, there still exist chances of spreading the infection. A useful solution is for tables to be surrounded by protective barriers, such as plexiglass or screens, or tables in different rooms with doors that can be closed. Additionally, restaurants can assign only one server to a single table at a time. 

Restaurants can also do pre-entry screenings, such as temperature checks or inquiries regarding symptoms and close connections with those who have just been diagnosed with COVID-19. 

Should I request disposable utensils and wipe everything off while dining out?

The virus can be inactivated by regularly cleaning plates, glasses, and utensils, as well as laundry napkins and tablecloths. There are no disposables required here.

Between usage, the table should be cleaned and disinfected, and it should be labeled as sanitized.

disposable utensils and wipe everything off in restaurants during  COVID-19 times

Menus, depending on the material, are a little more problematic. Menus made of plastic should be sterilized. Disposable menus would be a better option. Remember, even if someone comes in contact with an infectious virus, they should be safe as long as they do not touch their mouth, nose, or eyes. So wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently.

Is it possible for me to contract the virus from the food itself while dining out in restaurants and bars? 

The danger of contracting the novel coronavirus through food is quite low.

This is a respiratory virus that enters the upper or lower respiratory tract by droplets or aerosols that enter through the mouth, nose, or eyes. To induce infection, it must penetrate the respiratory tract, which it cannot accomplish through the stomach or intestinal tract. 

The use of masks and maintaining good hand hygiene by food preparers should significantly reduce the risk of food contamination. 

Is it safer to eat outside or use a drive-through during COVID-19 times?

To be on the safer side, opt for takeout or, if the weather permits, outside dining. The safest options are generally drive-up windows or carry-out; a brief encounter with one person when everyone is wearing masks is a lower-risk situation.

Eat safer Outside During COVID-19 Times

On a non-windy day, outdoor eating is safer than inside dining with everything else being equal because of the increased air volume. Maintaining eye protection with glasses and using a mask intermittently between bites and sips will reduce the danger even further.

In such uncertain times, it’s on consumers across the country to visit their local restaurants in the neighborhood to support small businesses. It is needless to say that customers and restaurants, both, need to effectively take precautionary measures to ensure a safe, happy, and worthy dining experience.