Is it safe to dine out during the COVID-19 pandemic?

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Nearly all states have allowed the restaurants to reopen and serve the customers in some fashion as the coronavirus continues. Around 44 states in India have already followed the reopening of dining out under some guidelines of Unlock 2.0. Whereas some countries like New York have yet to announce the full reopening of restaurants. But reopening is not that easy! There is some specific safety guideline for different business but restaurants have a six-page guideline from federal safety officials as this business contains more of human-to-human interaction. CDC guidelines contain several things including frequent hand wash and mandatory face masks for all the employees. There is obviously some risk involve but for how long the restaurants will remain shut. The precautions will be strictly taken by these businesses which can minimize the chances that the person can be exposed to the virus.

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, order takeout or delivery is still the safest option for restaurant foods. The food home delivery app such as Swiggy, Zomato, or Foodpanda is a more adequate option as compared to dining out. 

But if you decide to dine out, the best option is to look for the places that offer outdoor seating where tables are at least have a difference of six feet between them. The coronavirus spread when people talk, laugh, speak, sneeze, or cough and do not maintain a distance. Hence, indoor seating in the restaurant with less safely distanced tables and less ventilation poses a risk.

Disposable menus and utensils are preferred to be used to reduce risk. People can use online payment options available on mobiles such as Paytm, google pay, and many more to avoid human contact. Regular Use of sanitizer and fever check to be done for all the customers that are visiting the restaurants for takeout or dine out. If they have been feeling sick or having any symptoms, an immediate report to the nearby hospital should be done. And if you are gathering at a restaurant, go with only the people you know.

 

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What are the risks of eating at the restaurant?

Even after adopting the guidelines, there can still be some risk involved with the reopening of restaurants. Some of them are-

  1. Shared utensils and condiments– At your table, there is a risk handling the basic availability such as salt and pepper shaker, ketchup bottles, or using tissues while also using the same hand to eat food. Though safety measures were taken with the disposable utensils and dishware during the pandemic to avoid cross-contamination. It can still be proved risky. 
  2. Heavily frequently used surfaces– There are various shared touchpoints that can skip through the mind while the restaurant can do their best to sanitize the areas frequently there are still some places left which elevated the risk of shared surfaces.  Such as bathrooms, doorknobs, sink faucets. These are the small things that can bring the potential risk in transmission if didn’t handle carefully. There are some other surfaces like furniture, floors, etc. which stayed as a common surface in between the diners.
  3. Insufficient sanitizing – Even if the cleaning staff is doubled there is still no guarantee that every surface remains perfectly sanitized for a complete business day. Keeping each surface as clean as possible in between the diners, is inconquerable.
  4. Shared air supply – Diners were strictly asked to cover their nose and mouth with their mask but obviously while eating they have to remove it which increases the risk of shared air particles. Furthermore, there can be risks involved with the air conditioning and spreading the particles through HVAC units. Therefore, indoor seating should be avoided to eliminate this risk. 
  5. Interaction with the staff and proximity to the other diners– According to the guidelines, it is important to maintain the six feet distance to prevent the spread of Covid-19. But at some point, that distance can’t be kept while you are being served – taking orders, getting drinks, serving meals, or paying bills and all the interactions between yourself and your server.

 

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People who are more vulnerable to this virus such as, elderly and children, should avoid eating at the restaurants altogether!!

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