With the reopening of restaurants and other businesses comes more choices — as well as concerns about how to stay healthy.
Prior to COVID-19, experts predicted $899 billion in sales for the restaurant industry this year. At that time, the average American household ate out four to five times per week.
Eating out or ordering takeout can be a way to support local businesses and your community during this time. However, it is important to stay safe while doing so.
Check out these tips for dining out during the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 and restaurants
First, remember your safety basics.
Always wear a mask when within six feet of others helps to prevent the spread of COVID-19. If you are feeling sick or suspect you have been exposed, you should not go out to eat.
Each state or local government may have regulations for businesses specific to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided guidance for restaurants and businesses to follow.
So, what are the different levels of risk when eating out?
Food service limited to drive-through, delivery, takeout and curbside pick-up.
Drive-through, delivery, takeout and curbside pick-up emphasized. Onsite dining limited to outdoor seating. Seating capacity reduced to allow tables to be spaced at least six feet apart.
Even More Risk
Onsite dining with both indoor and outdoor seating. Seating capacity reduced to allow tables to be spaced at least six feet apart.
Onsite dining with both indoor and outdoor seating. Seating capacity not reduced and tables not spaced at least six feet apart.
Remember, if you don’t feel comfortable with the safety precautions being taken at an establishment, you can always remove yourself from the situation.
Safety when ordering takeout
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there have been no cases of transmission of COVID-19 from food or surfaces of food packages. In fact, the virus that causes COVID-19 cannot grow on food.
Transmission of this virus occurs primarily from exposure to respiratory droplets from someone with the virus, such as when they cough, sneeze or talk. With that in mind, social distancing and wearing a mask if within six feet of someone should still be practiced if you are picking up a food order or having food delivered to your door.
Old dining rules still apply
For general food safety, remember to always wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before eating. Do not keep hot foods out at room temperature for longer than two hours. Leftovers should be packaged in an airtight container and stored in a refrigerator or freezer. Leftovers stored in a refrigerator should be eaten within four days. When reheating leftovers, make sure they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to decrease the risk of foodborne illness.