A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention links symptomatic COVID-19 cases in adults to on-premise dining. Looking at 11 U.S. health care facilities, the organization found that those who tested positive for coronavirus were approximately twice as likely to have reported dining at a restaurant in the two weeks preceding illness onset than those with negative test results.
The CDC says these restaurant exposures could be tied to air circulation, as direction, ventilation and intensity of airflow may affect virus transmission, even if social distancing measures and masks mandates are followed when possible. Of course, masks can’t be worn while eating and drinking, whereas other activities such as shopping do not prevent proper mask use. Participants in the investigation, both with and without COVID-19, reported generally the same community exposures, with the exception of going to places with on-site eating and drinking.
Health officials have long asserted that close contact exposures contribute to the spread of COVID-19, and now that much of the country has opened back up, the CDC is highlighting the importance of efforts to reduce possible exposures when mask use and social distancing are difficult to maintain, to protect customers, employees and communities.
If you do decide that you’d like to go out to eat at a restaurant in the near future, know that the etiquette has changed significantly. Please consider these health and safety tips on how to dine out during the coronavirus pandemic.