Dining In The Wake of COVID-19

By Du Young Kim

Throughout the course of this year, there have been many difficult changes in our society as a whole. For example, one change that occurred was the transition from eating at a restaurant indoors to eating outdoors. Restaurant owners and staff workers had to follow a new protocol to ensure the safety of their customers.

Outdoor dining has helped many restaurant owners survive during this time of crisis. According to the New York Times article “Outdoor Dining in N.Y.C. Will Become Permanent, Even in Winter” by Winnie Hu and Amanda Rosa, “The outdoor dining program was introduced in June and has been scheduled to end on October 31. This program has allowed restaurants to generate at least some kind of income as they struggle to pay rent and keep some workers on the payroll.” Although outdoor dining became successful during this pandemic, there are still rules to follow. Face masks are required to be on at all times except for when the food is being served.

Temperatures must be checked at the entrance of the restaurant to make sure that the customers are not sick. Hand sanitizers must also be applied before and after a meal and lastly, tables must be set at least 6 feet apart from one party to another. Without these new rules, outdoor dining could not take place.

People are beginning to prefer outdoor dining more than indoor dining, according to the New York Times article “Indoor Dining Returns to New York City, but Will Customers?” by Michael Gold, “With the weather amendable to outdoor dining, it appeared that many customers on Wednesday were still choosing to eat outside. Even Mr. De Blasio, who has repeatedly urged people to support local restaurants, said he was not rushing to eat indoors. “I personally, prefer outdoor dining,” the mayor said. “And so long as it’s available, I would always choose it.”

But, as winter draws near, outdoor dining seems to be coming to an end and it looks like indoor dining is coming back in style. Although the idea of indoor dining feels like we’re going back to our old normal, the truth of the matter is that it’s more dangerous to eat indoors than to eat outdoors. According to the New York Times article “Spotting the Risks of Indoor Dining” by Pete Wells, “The risk of coronavirus transmission is lower for outdoor than for indoor dining in almost every case, and the safest course of all is staying at home.”

People need to be careful about their surroundings when eating indoors. If a restaurant is more crowded and the air is stuffy, there is a higher chance of being at risk for the coronavirus.

“A poorly ventilated indoor space with people talking is the virus’s dream,” said Lindsey J. Leininger, a clinical professor at the Tuck school of Business at Dartmouth college. According to Pete Wells, some of the signs to spot when inside a restaurant are crowds standing around the host area, tables that are too close together and people who talk without their masks on. If a restaurant shows these kinds of signs, it’ll be wiser and safer to avoid eating in places like these.

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