Now that restaurants are starting to open back up again, diners have questions that they might never have considered in the past. At restaurants, we’re exposed to things we wouldn’t be at home: food someone else has cooked, drinks someone else has poured, dishes someone else has washed, chairs that other people have touched as they pulled them from the table to sit, washrooms others have used, doorknobs they have touched, etc. It’s hard to know what to worry about and what not to worry about.
The most serious and valid concern when eating out is exposure to other people. When sitting in a restaurant we spend at least 25 to 20 minutes in the same location as other diners. Restaurants are spacing tables and chairs to help lower the chance of catching the virus. Eating in an outdoor restaurant lowers the odds even further.
Eating food that someone else has prepared is not likely to be an issue, according to the CDC, but eating with dirty hands might be, depending on whether or not we’ve touched a contaminated surface. Washing our hands for at least 20 seconds right before eating is always a healthy practice, but especially so now. As always, it is not healthy to eat or drink after another person.
Drinking is also not likely to cause an issue. City water treatments are sufficient to kill Covid-19 and other drinks are sterilized in processing.
Dishes washed in a commercial dishwasher are unlikely to remain contaminated, even if they were before washing.
The back of your chair could be contaminated and should be considered a possible source of infection. You can either disinfect it with a wipe or use a hand sanitizer after sitting down.
The hardest thing to keep clean at a table are still our own two hands. This is way finger foods are best avoided. The food isn’t likely to be an issue. Our fingers could be.
Wearing a mask isn’t practical when eating or drinking. This makes eating out of doors, or leaving right after eating, a better option than lingering at an indoor table after the meal is over. Wearing a mask before the food is served is a good idea.
Since some people get Covid-19 without ever having symptoms, and others have a significant time lag between exposure and developing symptoms, both you and your fellow diners may be contagious without knowing it. Practicing good hygiene before you get sick helps keep you and your fellow diners safe.