In times when the Covid-19 outbreak is shattering all our dreams, eating out has truly become a luxury. With restaurants shut or providing only ‘takeaway’ services for a long time, most of us are yearning to dine-in with friends and gorge on lip-smacking food. Well, now that the restaurants are open, we can’t suppress the urge to go out and dine at our favorite restaurant!

But owing to the current situation, can we consider it safe to go dine at restaurants yet? 

Social distancing norms are often difficult to follow in a restaurant setting. Plus, you have to remove your mask to eat and drink—no wonder the chances of getting infected while dining-in is high. But if you follow the guidelines and be a little cautious, you may be able to dodge the virus and enjoy a scrumptious meal at your favorite restaurant. 

Here is how you can keep yourself safe when dining out. 

  • Call the Restaurant

Restaurants are following a strict policy to offer a safe dining experience to the diners. Before you decide to go to a restaurant, call them ahead to find out their policies. Find out their indoor and patio dining policies and reservation options. 

Also, inquire about their operating hours and visit during the off-peak time to diminish your chances of getting the infection. 

  • Determine the capacity and seating 

The more the number of people in a closed area, the more are the chances of transmission. Hence, before you make a reservation, determine the capacity and seating of the restaurant. 

Furthermore, ventilation also plays a part in determining transmission and infection risk. A closed restaurant with poor ventilation slaps a higher risk of transmission on the face of the diners due to poor social distancing. 

Consider these factors while selecting a restaurant. 

  • Prefer eating outdoors

Most restaurants, besides the indoor seating option, also have an outdoor setup available for diners. Eating outdoors lessens the chances of transmission through droplets due to better air circulation. Moreover, scattered seating also makes the dining experience safer and more pleasurable. 

Prefer eating at the patio area rather than eating inside. However, if the outdoor space is enclosed or the tables are not spaced out properly, it could disturb the airflow and enhance the risk. It is advisable not to eat at such an ambiance.

  • Don’t use the restroom or other shared utilities 

When dining at a restaurant, steer clear from visiting the washroom or other shared utilities. The risk of aerosol transmission is often high in these confined spaces. More so, if you are not wearing a mask. 

If you must visit the restroom, wear your mask, practice hand hygiene, sanitize the space, and clean up after you’re done using the loo. 

  • Wear your mask

Of course, you can’t wear your mask while eating or drinking, the very fact that makes dining out riskier than other prospects. Make sure you wear your mask when you are not eating or drinking. 

Do not remove your mask while waiting for the table and walking through the crowd to reach your table or going to the washroom. Keep your mask on even while waiting for your order to arrive. Once you are ready to eat, remove your mask and don’t put it on the table. Keeping it inside your pocket or bag would be a better alternative.

Wear it back when you are ready to leave. 

Finally

Even though restaurants are offering and claiming to provide a safe dining experience with socially distanced tables indoors and outdoors and following strict protocols, stakes are high. 

While eating outside and inside pose medium and high risks, respectively, delivery and takeout are risk-free options. If possible, consider delivery or takeaway. And, if you must dine-in at a restaurant, keep these tips in mind. 

Also, practice double masking and maintain hand hygiene while you’re out to eat. If you experience any symptoms, reach out to a doctor, get tested, and seek prompt care. Remember, your safety lies in your hands – and in the pandemic times, quite literally!

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