It’s safe to say that the world is not back to pre-coronavirus times. At the most, even with herd immunity achieved, we’ve only transitioned to the new normal. Yes, it’s safer now to go out and eat at restaurants, but it’s not risk-free. No thanks to virus variants and mutations, there are questions on the efficacy rates of COVID-19 vaccines against the Delta and Lambda variants. But no worries, there is no need to return to pandemic proportions of restrictions and social distancing if you are fully vaccinated. While there are concerns about the vaccine’s efficacy rates, experts suggest you are still safe from severe symptoms and hospitalizations.
So, yes, it’s still okay to start dining out. You can reserve at table at a dinner restaurant that you’ve been eyeing for months. Finally, you don’t need to whip up dishes for your family. Everyone can sit at a restaurant, order what they want, and leave the dirty dishes on the table. It’s like a dream come true.
But precisely because there are still dangers to dining out that it behooves everyone to think about their health and safety. Even when fully vaccinated, you can still become a carrier of the virus and pass it on to unsuspecting unvaccinated individuals, infants, and other people who cannot get the vaccine. So, better to be safe than sorry, right? Practicing minimum health standards when going out must still be the rule for every family who wants to start eating in restaurants again.
Choose Al Fresco if Possible
Whenever possible, choose to dine al fresco instead of dining inside the establishment. Air ventilation is still much better outdoors. It reduces the risk of air simply circulating inside the room. Some restaurants put tables and chairs along the street to extend their seating options. Since it’s almost summertime, expect big colorful umbrellas to start lining the streets. This is to attract diners who may not feel safe enough inside the restaurant.
Put Space Between You and the Next Table
Six feet is the recommended distance between tables. You can’t measure it when you arrive at the restaurant, but you should at least have an idea how far apart the tables should be. If you’re not comfortable with the distance, you can ask the wait staff to help you move the tables farther apart (as long as there’s still space in the restaurant). Most will be willing to accommodate your requests as they are appreciative of any diners that enter those doors.
The six-feet-rule is based on data about how respiratory droplets can spread in a given area. The droplets usually settle in a radius of six feet and do not go beyond that. It’s safe to say that the farther apart you and the next table are, the safer you are from any kind of droplets.
Check the Protocols of the Restaurant
You can check the restaurant’s protocols regarding the wearing of masks, shields, and other protective measures. Did they require their staff to get vaccinated? What are the protocols for unvaccinated staff? Do they still have to wear masks? If it will make you feel better, visit only restaurants whose staff at least are still wearing some protective gear. You should also choose an establishment that has clear protocols about hand washing and sanitizing. A sanitation area for the diners is a good idea.
Ensure That Technology Is Being Utilized
There are a lot of not-so-nice-things about technology, but it has provided a respite during the pandemic. Choose a restaurant that uses technology to make the whole process more convenient for its diners. It should use digital menus and touchless payment schemes. Some are even using robots as a replacement for their wait staff. This could be an option for you, too, so you don’t have to interact personally with strangers.
If the restaurant is not yet using a digital menu and the ordering process is still old-school (talking to a waiter/waitress), you may want to think twice about going there. Sure, it is safer to dine out now since the economy has reopened, but there are still apprehensions among some sectors. A restaurant business that truly cares for its patrons will use technology to its advantage.
While the world is slowly becoming more normal again, that does not mean that fears of the coronavirus are unfounded. If anything, you still need to be very careful about going out. Getting things moving economically is good for the country, but not at the expense of your and your family’s safety.