Even though vaccinations are ramping up, COVID-19 infections still a concern across the United States. As such, dining out with your family and friends has changed over the past year. You’ll want to practice safety measures that lower your risk of infection, even after you receive your Fauci ouchie.
The reality is that there’s no such thing as zero-risk behavior during an ongoing pandemic. Those who thought they were following guidelines to the letter have contracted the novel coronavirus, while those engaging in higher-risk behaviors may not have. But it’s important to evaluate the risks you’re taking for both yourself and others. Around 47% of deaths in nursing homes are related to COVID-19 complications. Dining inside a restaurant can increase your chances of becoming sick or passing on the virus to someone else. Still, that doesn’t mean you have to stay inside this summer. Below are some ways to reduce your risk and enjoy dining out in the warmer weather.
Eat Outside at Home
Cook steaks, barbecue chicken, or make a special meal and dine outside on your patio or deck with your family. Eating outside always makes food taste better. Plan a picnic lunch or dinner and invite a few families or friends over for a socially distanced gathering in your yard. Limit the number of people and use safety measures to ensure everyone enjoys the meal. Cook a healthy meal with plenty of fresh vegetables, fruit, and lean cuts of poultry, meat, or fish. Eat your meal outside on the deck, patio, or in the yard. Protect yourself from insects with repellent and cover dishes when not in use. Be sure to wipe off tables with disinfectant or use disposable paper or plastic tablecloths to ensure safety.
You could also opt to order takeout food at a local restaurant and pick it up or have it delivered. Choose something you haven’t eaten in a while or could never make as well at home. This is one of the safest ways to enjoy cuisine from your favorite eateries, as your interaction with other people is short-term and protected via mask-wearing. Always wash your hands before and after eating!
Dine Outside At Parks and Beaches
Many parks and recreational areas are open for walking, biking, and picnicking. You can pack a lunch or dinner and dine at the park or order takeout food and bring it with you. Practice food safety uses a cooler to keep foods cold in and containers with lids to keep foods warm. Opt for a meal that can be eaten cold and does not require cooking or preparation. Salads, cold chicken, sandwiches, fruit, cheese, crackers are all good choices. Bring some sanitary wipes and wipe off picnic tables or bring your own plastic table cloth and discard after use. Wash hands after your meal and clean up after yourself. If at a beach, eat on a clean blanket or ground cover. This can be a great way to feel like you’re on vacation without having to leave your city!
Buy a Meal From Local Food Trucks
Travel in the summer increases the risk of accidents. Large truck fatalities increase in the warmer weather — and from 2016 to 2017, these accidents increased by 9%. But food trucks are a much safer bet. Taking a walk locally and stopping to get a meal using a local food truck reduces traffic on the highways. Many food trucks will take orders over the phone or online to reduce contact with customers. The order is ready when customers arrive to pick them up. Some customers pay online before they come. Food truck owners are enforcing social distancing and safety. Make sure to order from a food truck during slower times of the day, as this will help you avoid lines and exposure to others. Once your food is ready, you can bring it home or eat it in the park away from others. Food trucks have fewer employees and traffic has decreased due to the pandemic. Many use packaged condiments, protective face shields, and gloves.
Eating Outside and Inside of Restaurant
There really is no substitute for restaurant dining. But if you choose to patronize an eatery in person, you’ll want to stick to some guidelines. Choose restaurants that practice social distancing by offering tables outside that have a distance of at least six feet between them. While some schools are reducing distancing guidelines, remember that diners at restaurants aren’t wearing masks. Servers and restaurant personnel, however, should be and the restaurant should have established policies for mask-wearing when customers aren’t eating. Try to avoid using the restrooms and wear a mask if you have to use them. Wash your hands before and after dining inside or outside the restaurant.
Dining inside a restaurant carries the most risk for infection, so take this into consideration when eating out with your family and friends. Restaurants that offer indoor dining should have tables and customers six feet apart and limit the number of customers inside. Tables and dishware should be clean and restaurants that have a good HVAC and ventilation system are safer than those that do not. If you have a choice between outdoor and indoor dining, outdoor is typically the safer of the two choices.
Following these tips can help you transition into a post-COVID world while still protecting yourself. With over 6,210 hospitals in the United States in 2017, taking safety precautions can reduce the number of patients that have to be treated during COVID-19 outbreaks. If you keep these ideas in mind, you can enjoy the summer weather by dining outside in a relatively low-risk manner.