COVID-19: Is It Safe to Return to Restaurants?June 18, 2021 - Katie McCallum
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to drag on, you're probably ready to start visiting your favorite restaurants again — especially if you're vaccinated.
Being fully vaccinated means you're more protected from COVID-19, providing some flexibility in regard to what you can feel safe doing again. However, you may also make the personal decision to continue to be cautious in many scenarios, including dining inside at a crowded restaurant.
If you're not yet vaccinated, the CDC states that dining outdoors with friends from multiple households is still risky and eating inside a restaurant or bar is very risky.
The decision to dine at restaurant is ultimately yours, but it's important to understand the associated risks and ways to protect your health if you do decide to go to a restaurant.
Know your level of risk
COVID-19 vaccines provide strong protection against severe disease, but experts are still learning how effective these vaccines are:
- At reducing transmission
- Against the COVID-19 variants currently circulating
- At protecting protecting people with weakened immune systems
These are important factors to consider as you make your decision to dine at a restaurant.
If you're unvaccinated, continue to approach restaurants and bars with caution, especially if you are high risk for developing severe COVID-19. And know that you can easily spread COVID-19 even if you don't know you have it. Take extra precaution if you are unvaccinated and live or care for someone who is at higher risk.
In addition, consider getting vaccinated as soon as possible.
Take the necessary precautions, including dining outdoors if you can
If you're vaccinated, you can feel more comfortable going to a restaurant. However, you may choose to continue to play it safe by eating outdoors on a patio and avoiding sharing food or drinks with someone not in your primary household. If you do dine indoors, as well as when you go indoors to use the restroom, it's best to wear your mask any time you're not eating.
If you're unvaccinated, know that the CDC considers dining outdoors risky and dining indoors very risky. Always wear a mask and keep your distance from yourself and others.
Whether you're vaccinated or not, be sure to practice proper hand hygiene before and after eating your meal.
Consider taking your food to go
It can be hard to practice social distancing effectively at a restaurant and near impossible at a bar (Related: Social Distancing: How Far Is 6 Feet, Anyway?). Plus, you can't wear a mask while eating. Keep these factors in mind as you consider dining indoors at a restaurant — especially if you're unvaccinated.
As an alternative to dining indoors or on a patio when it's hot, consider ordering your food to go.
If you're unvaccinated, you may wish to opt for restaurants that offer "no contact delivery" or curbside delivery.