As social distance guidelines begin to lift in certain states, restaurants are starting to open beyond takeout service. Health officials maintain that you should always wear a cloth face covering in public spaces — especially around people outside your household — but not all restaurants require their guests to wear one while they dine. Should you wear one anyway?
Many official health organizations including the CDC, WHO and Mayo Clinic assert that the best way to prevent getting or spreading coronavirus is to avoid exposure. This includes wearing a cloth face covering. This preventative measure helps make sure you don’t spread the respiratory virus to those around you — including restaurant staff — should you cough, sneeze or talk loudly.
That said, you physically can’t eat or drink if you’re wearing your mask properly. So, what do you do when your food comes? Jade Flinn, a nurse educator for the Biocontainment Unit at Johns Hopkins Medicine, told Today that diners should store their masks in a well-ventilated, preferably paper bag while dining because taking it off between bites might actually increase your risk of spreading the virus to your hand.
This goes for indoor and outdoor dining, although general transmission is much less likely to occur outside in the open air, according to Mayo Clinic pediatric infectious disease specialist Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse. So if you have the option, consider eating your meal on the patio — and bring your face covering. Wearing a mask when you dine out is just one way coronavirus has changed restaurants indefinitely.