Tips for Dining Out During COVID-19
Restaurants have been significantly impacted by COVID-19. Perhaps more than many other industry, the restaurant industry has heavily felt the effects. Most restaurants either moved to take out-only models or closed down altogether over the past two months, but now as states are reopening, restaurants are having to contemplate how to make that work for them.
Dining out during COVID-19
Restaurants have to balance keeping their employees safe as well as their customers.
After staying home for such a long time, many customers are also seemingly interested in dining out once again but in a safe way.
There may be federal, state, and local guidelines restaurants follow, but if you’re going to a restaurant anytime soon, there are also steps you should take on your own.
The following are some tips for dining out during COVID-19, as lockdowns begin to lift.
Check with Restaurants About the Steps They’re Taking
Most restaurants are enacting new rules for their employees, whether that’s because their local government is requiring them to, or because they choose to. Nearly all restaurants already follow stringent food safety guidelines, and those are even more rigorous now.
If you aren’t sure what a restaurant is doing to keep patrons safe, check with them. They likely have the details listed on their website or social media pages, and if not, send them a message or email to check.
Some things to look for before you choose a restaurant to dine at include:
- Is the restaurant going to space both tables and reservations far enough to allow for social distancing? One of the main changes most restaurants have made as social distancing requirements have been relaxed is moving tables farther apart, and also operating at a reduced capacity, such as 25% or 50%. Some restaurants are even placing partitions between tables.
- Have employees received updated training as far as sanitizing surfaces and keeping themselves safe and healthy?
- Is the restaurant providing instruction for employees who may be feeling ill? How would the restaurant let customers know if an employee did become sick with covid-19?
- Are employees practicing social distancing while they’re in the kitchen?
- Are the employees of the restaurant asked to wear masks or required to do so?
- A lot of restaurants are using technology as a way to reduce close contact between staff and customers. If you’re choosing a restaurant, you might want to ask them if this is something they’re doing. For example, they may be using automated ordering systems or mobile ordering apps.
Sit Outdoors If Possible
If you want the experience of going to a restaurant, but you’re still a little unsure because of COVID-19, try to find a restaurant with outdoor seating.
Sitting outdoors is typically going to be safer than sitting indoors, particularly if it’s sunny. The UV rays of the sun do generally kill viruses, and the open-air can be better than sitting inside where the air is recirculating.
When you make a reservation, specify that you’d like to sit outside.
Wear a Mask
There is some debate as to whether or not you should wear a mask to restaurants, but generally, it’s not a bad idea, especially if it makes you feel comfortable to do so.
You can wear a mask while you’re waiting for a table or interacting with your server if it’s not possible to stay six feet apart. That will give you some level of protection, even if you can’t wear your mask while you’re actually eating.
Bring Your Own Wipes and Sanitizer
Most restaurants and businesses, in general, are going above and beyond to make sure they sanitize their facilities as much as possible, but you can also go a little further if you visit a restaurant as a customer.
Bring your own disinfectant wipe so you can go over menus, chairs, and tables.
You can also bring a little bottle of your own sanitizer and use it frequently throughout your meal.
Skip Anything That’s Self-Serve
In restaurants, even without a global pandemic, anything that’s self-serve can be a breeding ground for germs.
For example, drink stations, including not only the drink machines but also things like precut lemons, should be avoided if you’re concerned about COVID-19.
Also, if a restaurant has a buffet or hot bar, you should skip this for the time being. Try to order your food to be prepared for you and hold off on self-serve options.
As we all try to get back to a new sense of normal, there are steps we can take to both protect ourselves and give ourselves peace of mind, including when we eat at restaurants.