What is the risk of dining out during the COVID-19 pandemic?
There is some risk, but health officials say you can take precautions to minimize the risk of exposure to the virus.
Ordering takeout or delivery is still the safest option for getting food at restaurants, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If you decide to eat in a restaurant, it is best to opt for outdoor seating where the tables are at least 6 feet apart, the agency says. Dining at a restaurant that has not reduced capacity or at distant tables safely poses the most risk, he says.
Coronavirus spreads through droplets that are emitted when people talk, laugh, sing, cough or sneeze. Interior spaces are riskier than outdoor spaces, as it might be more difficult to separate people and there is less ventilation, says the CDC.
Guests must assess the other security measures taken by the restaurant.
For example, waiters should wear masks and the restaurant should have a process to make sure people don’t congregate too close while waiting for a table, says Dr. Susan Casey Bleasdale, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Illinois to Chicago.
Digital or disposable menus and disposable utensils are also preferable, according to the CDC. The agency says contactless payment options, like the ones available on your mobile device, are optimal. Otherwise, restaurants should have procedures to avoid direct contact with cash and credit cards.
If you are meeting in a restaurant with a group, Bleasdale suggests eating dinner only with people you know and checking to see if they are feeling sick or have symptoms.
People more vulnerable to serious illnesses caused by the virus, such as the elderly, may want to avoid eating out altogether.
Source: AP News