As local restaurants and bars are now permitted to open for service and people are eager to enjoy dining out, it’s essential to adhere to health and safety guidelines so you and your family stay protected against the coronavirus. Melissa Bronstein, the director of Infection Prevention and Control for Rochester Regional Health, tells us her top tips when you’re out at a restaurant this summer.
Walking in between tables when being seated, going to the bathroom, or walking up to the bar are all reasons you might be exposed in the open at a restaurant. It’s important that you keep your mask on you at all times when you’re not seated, Bronstein explains.
“Since there are more people outside dining out, there is a higher likelihood of coming within six feet of someone else.”
Be sure to wear a mask at all times unless you are seated at a table. Since there will be several others dining around you, it’s crucial to follow masking guidelines to protect yourself and others.
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The coronavirus can spread to you when a droplet gets in your eyes, nose, or mouth. The likelihood of that increases when you touch surfaces or objects in public and then touch your face. It is especially important to refrain from touching your face while out at a restaurant.
“Always use hand sanitizer after you’ve touched surfaces, particularly payment machines, a billfold, payment cards, or cash,” says Bronstein.
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Unless you’re the first one at the restaurant, it’s likely that other people sat at your table before you. Although restaurants are adhering to strict cleaning guidelines, it’s a good idea to use hand sanitizer before you eat, just in case.
Keeping hand sanitizer with you at all times is a good way to ensure that you’re keeping your hands as clean as possible. Be sure to keep lotion handy, too, as cracks in your skin from dry hands can pose a risk.
Regularly washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is still very important. Always remember to do so upon leaving and returning home. When in public, thoroughly wash your hands before and after you use the bathroom.
Tables are required to be at least six feet apart. However, maintaining appropriate social distancing can be difficult when walking to and from the table. It’s important to be cognizant of the distance you place between yourself and others.
“The closer people are together, the more likely the virus is to be transmitted,” says Bronstein.
Although sitting at tables six feet apart helps reduce the spread of COVID-19, avoid sitting at tables with people who you are not already living with or seeing regularly.
“When you take off your mask to eat, that’s a high-risk moment. Make sure you are only sitting close to people who you’ve been sharing space with.”
Bronstein added that limiting restaurants to outdoor seating works to ensure a reduced risk of spread. “Outside air can help carry the virus droplets away. When there is room for a breeze, we are not sharing the same air as those around us.”
Why social distancing is so important
As the coronavirus continues to affect the lives of everyone in our community, remember that those around you may be stressed. A night out to eat will be most enjoyable if everyone is considerate and supportive of one another.
“Be kind to others. Everyone is doing their best and should continue to do their best to keep themselves and others safe. If we can all help each other, we can get through this as safely as possible,” said Bronstein.
As life begins to regain a sense of normalcy, it is still essential to adhere to health and safety precautions. Remember that although businesses are beginning to reopen, our community must continue to do everything possible to keep everyone safe and healthy.
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