When the COVID-19 pandemic began, many restaurants either temporarily closed or switched to delivery or to-go options only. Now that restaurants are starting to open back up, your mouth may be watering at the thought of enjoying your favorite meals in person at local establishments.
Before you head out to eat, you should be aware of what has changed and any current restrictions. Here’s what you can expect.
When you arrive at the restaurant, the entire staff will probably be masked up. Many restaurants are also requiring that diners wear masks from entry to exit, except while eating. To stay as healthy and safe as you can, you might consider stocking up on high-quality styles like N95 face masks. These masks offer filtration at greater than 95 percent, which can help put your mind at ease in a busy restaurant, and their head straps are comfortable while helping to hold the mask securely against your face. You can find them at retailers like Green Supply.
If you are used to being seated right away at your favorite restaurant, you may want to be prepared for a possible wait. Most eateries are now placing their tables at least six feet apart, and many have closed down their bars with tight seating areas; this means fewer people can be inside and eating at one time. Consider either calling ahead to inquire about reservations or bringing a book or something with you to entertain yourself until a table opens up for you.
To prevent the transmission of germs, many restaurants have done away with “shared” objects and areas, like self-service drinks, salad bars and even menus. If the place where you are dining does have any of these items or areas still up and running, the Cleveland Clinic advises avoiding them when you can, sanitizing your hands well when you cannot and never touching your face. In place of regular menus, some restaurants may ask that you look up their online menu on your phone, so be sure to bring your smartphone or tablet with you so you can more easily choose what you want to eat.
As the CDC notes, restaurant and bar owners are using a variety of methods to keep their establishments as healthy as they can. This includes frequent cleaning and disinfecting of areas that are touched often by others — think doorknobs, cash registers, credit card readers and bathroom stalls. Tables, countertops and receipt trays should also be cleaned thoroughly between customers. As you dine, be prepared to watch servers and other restaurant staff diligently clean and disinfect areas around you, including when the people six feet away from you finish their meal and leave.
Eating out in restaurants can be such a pleasurable event; it is nice to know you can start going back to your favorite places in person. By having an idea of what will be different and what rules and regulations will be in place, the entire experience promises to be an enjoyable and relaxing one.