How risky is dining out during the COVID-19 pandemic?
If you decide to eat at a restaurant, it's best to opt for outdoor seating where tables are at least 6 feet apart, the agency says. Dining inside a restaurant that hasn't reduced its capacity or safely distanced tables poses the most risk, it says.
Diners should assess what other safety steps the restaurant is taking.
For example, servers should be wearing masks and the restaurant should have a process to ensure people are not congregating too closely while waiting for a table, says Dr. Susan Casey Bleasdale, an infectious disease expert at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Digital or disposable menus and throwaway utensils are also preferable, according to the CDC. The agency says touchless payment options, like those available on your mobile device, are optimal. Otherwise, restaurants should have procedures for avoiding hand-to-hand contact with cash and credit cards.
If you are gathering at a restaurant with a group, Bleasdale suggests only dining with people you know, and checking if they have been feeling sick or experiencing any symptoms.
People more vulnerable to severe illness from the virus, such as the elderly, might want to avoid eating out at restaurants altogether.
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