(AscendHealthy.com) – Casseroles, homemade pizzas and taco nights are great. And many of us may have improved our cooking skills over the last few months. But as states reopen, and restaurant dining becomes an option again, the public may think it’s safe to resume normal activities. How much risk does that restaurant meal really entail? We have the answers here.
Going out to restaurants is an extremely popular pastime, with the average American going out to eat 5.9 times every week, including things like fast-food lunches, according to Business Insider. But in the era of COVID-19, that habit might be putting people at a greater risk of illness. Read the full article to find out more.
Could Eating Out Put You At Risk? Find Out Here!
No Standard Protocols
The biggest concern with eating at restaurants now is that they don’t have a standard set of guidelines they must follow. The CDC provided guidance about spacing and the reduction of disease transmission, but they didn’t address details. That leaves each restaurant trying to decide how they want to keep people socially distanced and what kind of precautions their servers have to take. Restaurants have created their own idea of what’s safe and what isn’t, and it’s going to vary depending on where in the country you live and which restaurants you choose for your dining experience. Consider calling ahead to find out what protocols the restaurant you’re thinking of visiting have implemented.
Larger Restaurants Can Mean Lower Risk
Surprisingly, it may be safer to go to larger establishments. It’s easier to keep people apart there and still have diners coming through so the restaurant can stay in business. The lack of customers could be putting restaurants at risk of closing, and in order to stay open they need to find enough ways to serve customers. To keep your risk of COVID-19 as low as possible when dining out, be sure to select restaurants that are following good safety protocols based on the CDC guidance.
Look for Single-Use Options
One way to stay safer when eating at restaurants is to look for single-use options. In other words, don’t share a bottle of ketchup that may have come from another table earlier, and don’t touch surfaces that could be touched by others, such as salt and pepper shakers.
Many restaurants are using single-serving options now, such as a small amount of ketchup in a disposable cup with a lid, instead of placing a ketchup bottle on the table. Most are also offering paper menus that will be thrown away after you’re done, rather than sharing menus as you normally would. These kinds of options aren’t a guarantee against illness, but they can help to reduce the risk of transmission.
The Type of Ventilation Might Matter
How a restaurant is ventilated can matter when it comes to disease transmission risk. According to the CDC, the virus spreads most easily from close contact with other people. It’s most frequently spread when people cough or sneeze within six feet of one another, but laughing and talking has also been shown to produce small droplets that can carry the virus. Because these don’t fall to the ground like a larger droplet from a cough or sneeze would, the smaller droplets can make their way to surfaces and even into the air in general. That means an HVAC system in a building could theoretically carry the virus and spread it to others. But there’s not yet enough evidence to be sure of that. Sitting outside with proper social distancing is thought to be safer.
Don’t Let Your Guard Down While You’re There
Just because you’re out for a great meal at a restaurant, it’s not time to let your guard down. You can still follow CDC guidelines to reduce risk, such as frequent hand-washing, the use of hand sanitizer, and wearing a mask when not actively eating or drinking. Remember not to touch your face and to maintain social distancing rules. By doing those things, sitting outside, if possible, and choosing a restaurant with strong safety protocols, the risk of catching the virus will be lower.
When you choose to go out to a restaurant, remember that the risk of COVID-19 can’t be completely eliminated. You are the only one who can decide what level of risk is acceptable for you and your health and make plans accordingly. With proper precautions, many people have chosen to enjoy a restaurant meal again. If you’re high-risk or concerned about a restaurant’s indoor seating or other protocols, take-out or curbside pickup may still be your best option.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension
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