Is it safe to go to restaurants in a pandemic? Your guide

Editor’s Note – There are few risk-free activities during the Covid-19 pandemic, but there are ways to mitigate risks. Fully vaccinated people, of course, have a much lower risk of contracting coronavirus and spreading it than people who have not been vaccinated. CNN’s medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen recommends that you make your activity decisions with this in mind.

(CNN) – As the vaccinated percentage of the population increases, you might be wondering if now is the time to finally enjoy a meal that isn’t homemade or take away.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, eating and drinking indoors in restaurants and bars is riskier than some other places for several reasons: Not only do people from different households congregate in the same room, but you also have to Take your mask away from food and drink.

Upstairs, people eat inside, while indoor food continues to open on March 24 in New York City. Physical distancing, barriers, and good ventilation are some ways to reduce the risk of Covid-19.

STRF / STAR MAX / IPx / AP

“You still have to be very careful when you’re in these areas,” said Dr. Ada Stewart, a general practitioner for Cooperative Health in Columbia, South Carolina and president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. “You are in a crowd and you do not know the status of many of these people.”

The layout of restaurants can make it difficult to maintain social distance. And since restaurants can be noisy, people may speak louder and more forcefully, which can increase the likelihood that the coronavirus will spread through respiratory droplets. Depending on a restaurant’s ventilation flow, droplets of breath and air that may be laden with coronavirus can accumulate or spread over 6 feet.

Given these risks, the CDC’s guidelines for indoor restaurants are the same for vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

If you’re fully vaccinated and infected, you are unlikely to get Covid-19 symptoms, Stewart said. But you “can potentially expose someone to illness who may develop a serious illness.”

If you plan to eat out, the first thing to do is check that the restaurant is following the preventive measures recommended by the CDC. You can check the restaurant’s website or call the company and inquire. Restaurants that reduce the risk include establishments where outdoor seating is at a distance. Have both staff and guests wear masks when not eating or drinking. and have their menu available online.

Eating and drinking outside a company is safer, according to the CDC, because air or breath droplets that may be contaminated with coronavirus would not flow around in an enclosed space.

Limit your alcohol consumption so you can develop proper judgment. Whenever possible, ask for individually wrapped condiments – including salt, pepper, and ketchup – and don’t share foods. Since your risk of infection increases the longer you stay in an area, limit the time you spend in the restaurant, suggested the CDC.

“If you are in close proximity to other people and there are a lot of guests crammed together, I would try to limit the time as much as possible,” said CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen, an Emergency Physician and Visiting Professor of Health Policy and Management at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health.

You can also minimize time in the restaurant by ordering in advance and not ordering starters or more than one course.

However, if you are fully vaccinated and “can be at least 3 meters away from others and dine with someone who is also fully vaccinated,” Wen said, “I would have no restriction on this period.” Whoever you eat with should also be fully vaccinated.

Everyone should Cover up your coughs and sneezes, and practice washing your hands frequently.

Above: Above, people are enjoying lunch at Grand Central Market, while indoor dining reopens in Los Angeles on March 15.

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