Eating out, the biggest social activity of modern times was one of the things worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March this 2020, most of the world has been in various states of lockdown With businesses, schools and public gatherings all prohibited, we have been in a state of isolation for several months.
Now that bans are being lifted to various degrees, eating out is one of the first things that people want to return to as part of the normalising process. The pandemic is by no means over and carelessness can cause large outbreaks again. In this scenario, you need to be very prudent in all your social contacts, especially eating. out . I have put together a few precautions that might make you a bit safer:
Buffet style eating is a big no no.
Buffets used to be a sensible option for large numbers of people to eat in a short period of time. In the current pandemic situation, the close contact as you jostle with others to fill your plate as well as repeated handling of the same serving spoons, ladles etc can make them potentially life threatening. I don’t know if buffets are operating in hotels and restaurants since I have been mostly at home. If they are held again by hotels, caterers etc, I suggest you give them a wide birth.
Choose outdoor seating options.
As everyone knows by now, COVID-19 is transmitted by talking , coughing and of course when you open your mouth for eating. This means that the cozy cafe type settings that you might have enjoyed earlier are no longer safe. Eating or drinking in the open air is much safer due to the larger air volume and (consequently a smaller amount of virus particles).
Be prepared to change your venue.
Avoiding crowds is the prime objective so the most popular eatery is the one you must avoid most, especially at peak hours. Even if you have reserved a table in advance, be prepared to cancel it if the place seems too busy. Move on to another venue or if you must eat at that particular place, come back at a quiet time.
Finger food is a good idea.
When eating out these days, it is best to avoid using the cutlery provided. You can bring your own knife and fork. Don’t worry about looking weird — these are weird times. If the restaurant provides disposable cutlery that is individually sealed or wrapped, that should be safe. Food that you can eat with your hands is always safe since you can wash or sanitize your hands before and after. Having said that, if servers are handling the table ware with clean gloves there is very little risk.
Takeaway and Delivery is still the safest.
I have saved the safest and most important option for last. Whatever anyone may say, it is still safest to eat at home. This is more important for high risk groups like children, elderly and people with low immunity.
Takeaway and deliveries will satisfy your taste buds, but what about the social connection? Again, you must take the safest course. Having a small gathering (only 2 or 3) at a friend’s place is far safer than hanging out in a fast food joint or other eating place.
Bon Appetit and Stay Safe.
Disclaimer : These are just a few suggestions and should be taken as such. For accurate information check reliable websites such as those run by the WHO or BBC. Remember, this pandemic is an evolving situation that can change rapidly so it is a good idea to update information regularly.
Images courtesy the Guardian.com