Is It Safe to Dine Out? Here’s What You Should Know.

Restaurants around the country are reopening, and some are operating at 50 percent capacity. But before you rush out the door, remember that the opening of some businesses doesn’t mean that COVID-19 has disappeared or that it’s any less dangerous than it was a few months ago.

Even though local governments across the U.S. are gradually reopening, recommendations for social distancing, wearing face masks in public, and taking other precautionary steps are still in place. If you plan to venture out, following these tips could help ensure your safety.

First, assess your risk

It’s important to contemplate whether you should be going out in the first place. Factors to consider include:

  • Your age: Older people (over 65-years-old) are at higher risk for more serious cases of COVID-19 and related complications.

  • Your overall health: If you have underlying conditions—such as lung disease, diabetes, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, or a compromised immune system—getting COVID- 19 could be particularly dangerous.

  • Your community: How widespread is the disease in the place where you live? Are cases rising or on the decline?

Do your homework

Before grabbing a bite to eat, it pays to do a little research. Search online or call the restaurant with a few simple questions: What changes have you made to cleaning and disinfecting protocols? Is outdoor seating available and how far apart are tables situated? Are staff members wearing face coverings and taking steps to ensure good hygiene?

Come prepared to the restaurant. Bring a bottle of hand sanitizer, plus a packet of disinfecting wipes. And, of course, wear a cloth face covering.

Limit touch points

To limit surfaces touched by others, ask for individual condiment containers or packets. Avoid handling reusable menus unless they are disinfected between uses; best practices are chalkboards posted on the wall or single-use printouts.

Wash your hands

Before your food arrives, visit the restroom to give your hands a good 20-second scrub with soap and water. If the line to the bathroom is too long or the facility isn’t stocked properly, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

When your food arrives

People spread more particles that can transmit the virus by talking than while eating and drinking, according to Harris. So wear your mask until your food or drink comes, then stash the mask in a clean place—not on your table or chair or other communal surfaces.

Make a clean getaway

The longer you stay in close quarters with people outside your bubble, the higher the chances for transmission of COVID-19. When it’s time to pay the bill, ask about touchless payment options. Drop cash or credit cards on a tray to avoid direct contact, and bring your own pen to sign the check.

Dining out is a luxury many of us haven’t experienced in a while. While doing so inevitably loosens some social distancing measures, be sure to take your prevention techniques with you.