Is it Safe to Eat Out During the Pandemic?
The most accurate thing that can be said about dining during the pandemic is that there is a lot of confusing information floating around. Unfortunately, there is nary a consensus among medical experts, politicians, and restaurant owners on the most appropriate precautions to take when dining out.
With many states keeping restaurants open or reopening after flattening the curve, diners demand to know how best to stay safe while dining with family or friends during the pandemic. We put together a short guide to safe group dining that you and your pod or social bubble might find useful. No guide to eating at restaurants during the pandemic will be perfect, but below are the top two considerations for staying as safe as possible while dining out with a group.
1. Picking a Restaurant During the Pandemic
Your safety is in your hands, so the best thing to do is to be proactive and look up the safety practices of the restaurant at which you would like to dine. Government organizations such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention have shared guidelines for restaurants to follow and there are many tools available online to assess the risk of dining and other events in your specific area as well as assessing the risk levels of daily activities.
Ensure that your restaurant is following the guidelines by checking their website, social media channels, or calling ahead. The safest restaurants will be checking temperatures at the door, enforcing the wearing of masks by staff and patrons who are not seated, and should have hand sanitizer available and plenty of soap in the bathroom to keep hands clean.
Additionally, safe restaurants will have other precautions in place as well. The restaurant should ensure that there are at least six feet of distance between tables for guests from different parties. Just to be safe, we recommend opting for a restaurant with outdoor seating as this will improve the chances of appropriate air ventilation. If menus are not single sheet print outs, ask if you can view a copy of the menu on the restaurant’s website, social media, or local listing site. After all, the fewer shared surfaces you touch, the better.
2. Picking Your Dining Group
Choosing your dining partners might be more important than the cuisine of the day. If everyone in your group is a member of your household and has not exhibited symptoms of Covid-19 for two weeks, you are likely safe to dine together at a restaurant. The same rule applies to any guests that you are meeting. The last thing you want to do is break bread with a friend you haven’t seen in months, only to find out that they have a cough or fever.
When planning for any group activity during the pandemic, dining included, the best way to enjoy socialization and safety is to stick with a social bubble or pod. Your pod can go out with each other without social distancing within the pod itself while following the CDC guidelines for social distancing from those who are outside of the bubble.
Whoever you choose to #GroupForward with, be sure that your dining companions have not exhibited symptoms of COVID-19 for at least two weeks. If they have, it’s best to postpone your dinner date until a later time, for the safety of you and everyone else in the restaurant.
The Choice is Yours
Whatever your decision, be sure to get up-to-date guidance from health care agencies and your local or state government on dining out during COVID-19. Know before you go. With sites like The Local Chew, you can find the latest restaurant updates, capacity limitations, and guidelines that will help shape your dining experience. When you and your pod do go out to eat, remember to wear a mask on your way to the restaurant and tip your server extra for working during this unprecedented time. Also be mindful that beyond the best practices for planning a group dining event listed above, using an online platform like GroupTools to organize your evening of dining out will provide an added level of safety to your event.
#GroupForward with GroupTools
With GroupTools you can easily share all the restaurant safety information with your pod members, collect their RSVPs, and upload the restaurant menu to your even so you know for sure a safe, low touch version will be available to your pod no matter what. GroupTools is here to help make your pandemic group planning stress-free. Visit GroupTools.com to learn more or jump right into your planning by registering or logging in today.