MIAMI (CBSMiami) — In the first of our series on traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic, we tackle dining out as restaurants and customers navigate safety measures. What should you look for when deciding where to eat, whether you’re staying local or taking a trip.
Businesses are adapting to respond to changing coronavirus rules and safety measures.
The National Restaurant Association produced a guide to help restaurants operate safely. Larry Lynch is the group’s senior vice president of science and industry.
“What you want to see them doing is first and foremost, separating tables and chairs,” Lynch says. “Making sure that there is a distance between you and any other guests. Preferably there’s no waiting area. Look at what they’re doing for cleaning and sanitizing. Are they wiping down tables?”
Lynch says you should also make sure staff members are wearing face coverings, because they’ll likely be standing less than six feet away from you, and all the other customers.
Because people want more information about how restaurants are adjusting, the online site Yelp has added a COVID-19 section to list health and safety measures on each restaurant’s page. The company also recently allowed users to verify what restaurants are doing.
“It’s clear that consumers have this need to feel safe as they consider going back to businesses,” says Yelp’s head of consumer product, Akhil Ramesh.
Lynch says before you head out, head online. He recommends doing research and checking a restaurant’s webpage to see if it lists its COVID-19 safety precautions. If it doesn’t, he says don’t be afraid to call.
“As a consumer, you certainly have the right, and probably right now a little bit more the responsibility, to ask the question.”
As for where to sit, Lynch says outside is always better than inside to lessen potential exposure and look for a restaurant with good air flow.
The National Restaurant Association Guide recommends that restaurants provide hand sanitizer to guests, so that’s something else to look for when you go out to eat.