The restaurant dining experience as we once knew is now gone.For in the age of COVID-19, it has been replaced with six foot spacing between tables, pumps of hand sanitizers, disposable menus and masks for customers and employees.
However are precautions like these and other measures, such as capacity limits, disposable utensils, contactless payment and staff temperature checks enough to make dining out completely safe?
We at Fit Northeast asked experts whether it is safe to venture out to your favorite eatery for a bite to eat with a sense of normalcy.
"How much time you spend in proximity with other people and the actual level of physical proximity are major determining factors for virus transmission. The longer the time period and the closer the proximity the greater the danger," says Nabanita Khound a healthcare worker. "Being indoors and in relatively crowded places aggravates the risk factor. Restaurants hit potentially all the worst side of these things," she adds.
The safety measures you see in restaurants will not eliminate risk. "These measures are likely to decrease the risk. I do not think that there is any way to make dining out a completely risk-free experience," Khound shares.
If you are in an area where the novel coronavirus is raging, the decision to dine in a restaurant may not be wise.If you are in an area where the novel coronavirus is raging, the decision to dine in a restaurant may not be wise. Experts suggested looking at the trajectory of cases over the past couple of weeks.
"Large, open and ventilated spaces are preferred. Outdoors is definitely a safer bet for dining," says Romola Saikia, a private medical practitioner. "Contact with others or contact with areas where many others have been, such as bathrooms, are potential risk points," she cautions.
"Moreover in restaurants servers are invariably in contact with you. They are taking your order, telling you the specials and bringing you your food. They cannot bring you your food without touching your plate that you're then going to touch," Saikia states matter of factly.
Therefore, it's advised that you choose your restaurant wisely. "Ideally look for restaurants that are really committed to infection control and giving their employees sick leave. Also it is important that your server has frequent opportunities to wash their hands," Khound observes.
Saikia says tablecloths, menus, salt shakers, credit cards, chairs, doorknobs, and scores of other objects associated with a restaurant could all be contaminated with coronavirus. Therefore scrupulous attention to basic hygiene must extend to utensils, plates and food preparation.