Is it safe to eat at restaurants yet? Even if I can go to a restaurant, should I?

Infection and Spread Socializing Staying Safe

A: All steps at venturing out will involve risk, so the first step is to weigh infection prevalence (and increases or decreases) in your region and personal risk factors. It’s still best to opt for takeout or delivery if you are high risk or live with someone who is…no shame in not rushing out!

If you decide to eat out, some situations are safer than others—summary below but full info here.

The natural ventilation of outdoor air makes it safer than enclosed spaces. Indoors, bigger, well-ventilated restaurants with limits on capacity will be safest. Diners also need to remain physically distanced in waiting areas and multi-stall restrooms.

Large group dinners are still not advisable, due to the sustained close contact and risk of one person infecting multiple people (super-spreading events). Diners from different households can’t physically distance at the same table and can’t wear masks while eating. Try to keep the meal within your household or extended “pod”/”bubble”, and the fewer people at the table the safer.

Fast Casual or Sit Down? Style of dining is less important than the measures restaurants are taking to keep staff and diners safe. Look out for personal protective equipment, restrictions of numbers of customers, and regular cleaning. But the longer you are in a restaurant, the more opportunities there are to come into contact with different people, so consider the time of day and don’t linger over your meal.

Be cautious about self-serve buffets, not because of food-borne illness but high touch communal utensils and dispensers. In addition, be careful handling menus and condiments passed from table to table.
Restrooms: Try not to congregate in lines, etc without 6 feet of distance. Wear masks in common areas. Also, don’t forget hand hygiene!

Finally, remember that your servers are putting themselves and their families at risk to serve you—this is the perfect time to be generous tipper.

“Above all, remember that risk is shared: It’s not just you at risk of infection here, but your loved ones, other people’s loved ones, and an entire community.”

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