12 tips for safe dining in a restaurant
Restaurants across the country will open for indoor dining on Monday for those fully vaccinated or those who have recovered from a recent Covid infection in the past six months.
While some people will continue to stick to outdoor dining for the foreseeable future, others yearn for a return to restaurant comforts. Here is now to do it safely.
1. Dine with like-minded people
Six is the maximum number at a table to eat inside, so make sure they’re the kind of friends who have continued to take the same cautious approach after the vaccination that you have. You are going to be sitting at a table for about two hours, without a mask, eating and chatting.
2. Plan ahead
Do your research. Spacious restaurants with high ceilings are preferred, as overhead transmission is dominant. Check a restaurant’s social media accounts. Have they been careful in their approach, have they installed air filtration systems or CO2 monitors? Pick up the phone and call them. Ask them about their approach to ventilation. And plan your evening, how you are going to get to the restaurant and come home. If you take a taxi, make sure your driver wears a mask.
3. Visit the restaurants you know
Go to a familiar restaurant, where you know the layout, the people who run it, and the approach they took throughout the pandemic. Very often these are local restaurants, and it is always good to support your neighbors.
4. Visit at a quieter hour
Everyone wants a reservation at 8 p.m. on a Friday or Saturday, but what is 6 p.m. on a rainy Tuesday? There will be far fewer diners at off-peak hours, and if you’re in a breezy space with very few other tables occupied, this might be the perfect time for you.
5. Prepare and follow directions
It means wearing a mask. You will be required to present your European Union Covid-19 digital certificate at the door before entering the restaurant, along with other identification, such as a driver’s license. You will also be asked to give details about your party. Please be kind; the person at the door has a difficult job.
6. Arrive on time
It might seem obvious, but being on time is important. Reservations are staggered, so not everyone shows up at the same time. Allowing tables to gradually fill up also allows for more manageable service in the restaurant. This is why it is not always possible to get this 8pm table.
7. Use your judgment when you get there
The minimum requirement is that current measures and protocols are in place regarding distancing, ventilation, masks, sanitation and cleaning. Wearing a mask is mandatory at all times for restaurant staff. It must cover their nose and mouth. Although visors are not prohibited, studies have shown that they are less effective. Make sure the room is well ventilated. Poorly ventilated indoor spaces are potential infection hot spots. Dilution of indoor air helps reduce the concentration of the virus in the air.
Some restaurants have installed mechanical ventilation and ozone systems that purify the air and have CO2 monitors. At a minimum, there should be obvious air flow through open windows and doors, so ask for a table nearby.
8. Be respectful and follow the instructions of the reception staff.
A time limit for meals is no longer a rule, but some restaurants may offer menus for early risers or seek to collect your table after a certain period of time. They have the right to work with a time restriction in order to turn things around, so don’t be “that person” who won’t leave the table when necessary. And remember, this is table service. There is no socializing between the tables, which we can forget when we spot a friend across the room. Your table is your little space for the evening. It is not free for everyone. Always wear a mask when you leave your table to walk around the room.
9. Minimize time spent in the bathroom
If you want to be extra careful, avoid small, enclosed spaces, like the bathroom, where there is probably less ventilation. If you go to the bathroom, wear your mask and keep it on until you return to your table.
10. Consider a CO2 monitor
If you really want to reassure yourself, if you are going to eat out regularly and if money is not an issue, you can consider buying your own portable CO2 monitor (around € 200 for a good model), which you can use. will give a quick indication of whether the ventilation is adequate. It does not monitor aerosols carrying viruses, but when these are exhaled, so does CO2. When ventilation is poor, CO2 builds up with the virus, so monitoring it is a good indicator. The level should be less than 800 parts per million.
11. Introduce yourself
Absolutely critical, don’t cancel your reservation at the last minute, or worse yet, don’t show up.
12. Be generous
Tip well, in cash. They deserved it.