Can I eat at a restaurant?

More and more states are beginning to relax restrictions on restaurant dining. Does that mean it’s safe to start eating out again? Well, as always, the answer is: it depends. Let’s consider your options.

Take-out or delivery is safest

Most restaurants are offering take-out and delivery options, which are your safest bet. Remember that COVID-19 spreads through prolonged contact with an infected person. Picking food up, or having it delivered, will minimize this contact. Currently, the CDC does not believe COVID-19 spreads through food.

Outdoor dining is safer when eating at a restaurant

The virus spreads much less efficiently outdoors, so sitting outside is going to be your next best choice. Wear your mask when you aren’t eating, and replace your mask to speak with the server, even if you’re note required to wear your mask while sitting at the table. (This helps protect both you and your server, who has   to take orders from lots of guests.). 

Indoor dining is risky

Some restaurants are offering indoor dining, most with reduced capacity. Dining indoors, especially if it’s crowded, is high risk. For example,  like we describe in our article on superspreading events, one bar in Michigan was the cause of 188 cases.

Some COVID-19 dining tips

  • Get take out!
  • If you want to sit at a restaurant, dine outside.
  • Even outside, stay at least 6 feet from other people. 
  • Wear your mask when speaking with the server, even outside.
  • Wash or sanitize your hands just before eating.
  • Only take your mask off to eat and drink.
  • No masks on the table! Store it in your bag. 
  • Keep your time at the restaurant to a minimum to reduce exposure time.

As always, if you are sick, or have been exposed to someone with COVID, stay home! 


Last update: August 11, 2020, 04:15 pm ET

Science review: GA, JAB