The Grapevine

Eating Out Amid Coronavirus Outbreak: What You Need To Know

On Wednesday, the U.S. registered a record number of coronavirus cases within 24 hours. There were 45,557 new coronavirus cases confirmed, NBC News reported. Though the restaurant industry suffered severe losses at the onset of the pandemic, due to the spike in cases of several restaurants employees across the U.S. testing positive for the virus recently, some restaurateurs were urged shut their shops again. 

For instance, Nothing Bundt Cakes shut down operations in two locations in California. Similarly, restaurants in Las Vegas are testing employees and closing their businesses to contain the disease. 

Unlike other bacteria and viruses, coronavirus cannot be transmitted via food, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). COVID-19 infections spread through respiratory droplets, either from surfaces or from individuals who cough and sneeze. The virus is transmitted person-to-person. But this scientifically proven possibility has not stopped people from trying to resume their normal pre-pandemic lives and eating out is slowly making a comeback. 

However, the decision to dine at a restaurant should be made while keeping in mind the rate of community transmission. If there is a rise in COVID-19 cases in your area, it would be advisable to order takeout and stay at home. Those who have pre-existing conditions and people aged above 65 should not put themselves at risk by dining in restaurants, where risk of contamination could be high given the circumstance. 

Nonetheless, for those of you in dire need of social interaction with public spaces after self-quarantining for long, you should consider taking the following precautions:

Choose a restaurant that’s well ventilated

Aerosol transmission could increase in a poorly ventilated space since the particles stay trapped indoors. Choose a restaurant that has a kind of indoor space with open ceilings, open windows and doors. Better yet, choose a restaurant that has the option of outdoor seating. 

Find out in advance if restaurant is following guidelines

Prior to making a reservation or spontaneously turning up at the restaurant, check beforehand whether the staff mandatorily wear masks. Also, find out if the seating arrangement is in accordance with social distancing guidelines that recommend tables be placed six feet apart. 

Depending on the situation, communities and establishments can make their own rules for safety reasons. Some restaurants in California are handing out sanitizers at the entrance to make their lives easier. “I’m going overboard with this. I searched the internet and ordered sanitizer. I said, ‘I’m not going to be that guy that opens his doors and doesn’t have one on every table, dispensers every 20 feet for people, and in bathrooms,’’ Erik Pettersen, executive chef at Evo Italian in Tequesta, Florida, told Healthline.

Avoid sharing utensils, buffets and salad bars

Try not to share wings, nachos and fries from a single plate since viruses can interchange this way between people if their hands come in contact with each other. Gone are the days where we could share a pitcher of beer with our friends. As per the 'new normal,' don’t use self-service drink options. Also, do not share utensils such as spoons and other cutlery. Be as careful as possible with what you lay your hands on. 

Common areas such as buffets and salad bars don’t allow for social distancing. It also increases the chance of coming in contact with an infected surface. Use contactless payment methods at the end of the meal. Wipe the credit card clean once it is used, possibly with a sanitizer. Also, do not use the pen given by the restaurant to sign. Take your own pen to ensure the least amount of contact. 

Ensure toilet is stocked with cleaning essentials and hand sanitizer

If you need to use the restroom, make sure the area has enough soap, paper towels and sanitizer. Remember to wash hands for 20 seconds immediately after using the toilet. 

Wear a mask at all times and practice social distancing 

Except for the times when you are not eating, wear masks while you’re dining, be it indoors or outdoors. While walking around the restaurant, either when exiting through the hallways or sitting in the waiting area, ensure you keep a distance of six feet always, no matter where you are at the restaurant.  

Preorder meals if possible

Instead of wasting time waiting for your meal to be prepared, which increases the time spent near other people, try to preorder your meal to limit interactions with a potentially unsafe environment.  

COVID-19 and restaurant reopening Health experts said that people should continue practicing social distancing and other safety measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in restaurants and bars. Pixabay

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