Last Updated on January 20, 2024 by Ali Hamza
Coronavirus has completely changed life as we knew it. Lifestyles globally have succumbed to the virus, and economies have bowed down to its might. The restaurant industry too is suffering gravely due to the pandemic. Even though most of the countries have opened up the restaurants, however, the debate of the risks continues still.
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Risks of restaurants
Many of us might be tempted to give into the luxury of eating fine food and getting pampered. However, it’s just as important to also realize the cons of visiting the restaurants. According to US center for disease control and prevention, people who tested positive for COVID-19 were twice more likely to have eaten out at a restaurant in the two weeks before getting sick.
It is especially not recommended for people over 50, particularly the high-risk patients like the diabetics to visit the restaurant. If they do and start feeling some symptoms of the virus, it is imperative that they report to their family physician in Lahore immediately before the situation aggravates.
Understandably, yes, the restaurant industry has an important economic role to play, but their role as enablers –albeit unwilling –of coronavirus spread cannot be ignored.
No mask, No protection
The biggest risk about eating in the restaurants is that you have to take of your mask, which serves as your figurative lifeline. Once the mask comes off, your exposure to the viral droplets in the air skyrockets.
Moreover, even if many restaurants check temperature before allowing people to enter their premises, and only permit people with masks to dine in, the danger of exposure still runs very high.
Many people are asymptomatic, and others are carriers of the virus. Also, fever is just one of the signs of the virus, and that too in a certain percentage of people. This does not include the error involved in taking temperature through the handheld thermometers.
Bottom line, you can very well be sharing the restaurant space with a COVID-positive patient. And when you pull down your mask to eat, you also become vulnerable to the looming viral vesicles.
Proximity to others
It is not always the case that the tables are precisely 6 feet apart. With high rents and small spaces, restaurants are not always precise in the placement of the tables.
Moreover, most of the times, tables are set apart, but the chairs are spaced normally around those tables. It works fine if its family or close friends sharing those quarters, as chances are, you are aware of their precautionary practices they take already.
It is problematic when you share your table on business dinners and meeting, when you cannot vouch for the other person’s health or their attitude towards COVID. Hence, the proximity make you vulnerable to the virus.
Contact with other surfaces
We do not realize how many surfaces we touch unknowingly. The walls, the tablecloth, the cutlery, the banister, anything could be harboring the virus. It can be the case that people forget to sanitize their hands before eating or after touching these various surfaces. Hence, the increased chances of non-sanitized surfaces can potentially result in exposure to the virus.
Exposure to many people
Restaurants are buzzing with activity and they get frequented by many different people; from the vendors to the customers to the riders, notwithstanding the staff.
Hence, due to the sheer number of people restaurant gets exposed too, its odds of containing the virus increase, greatly. Therefore, when you visit the restaurant, you also make yourself vulnerable. Afterall, it does not happen in a vacuum; you touch surfaces, breathe in the air; the pitfalls are many.
Moreover, you also get to interact with many other people, which then increases your odds of contracting the virus.
Eating outdoors also comes with conditions
Outdoor eating is much safer than indoor dining, simply because of circulation of air. This prevents the viral particles from becoming concentrated in the air.
However, this only works if the setup is entirely open air. If there is some covering over the top, like a tent or canopy of sorts, the chances of air being contaminated with the virus still run very high.
Also, outdoor dining is not always feasible as it is contingent on the weather. Too hot, too cold, rainy weather, all necessitate indoor dining.
Sharing rest rooms
You may be able to dine out, but all rest rooms are in closed quarters. Moreover, many a times, the ventilation is directed towards the main dining area, so it may be that the rest rooms carry the stifled air that may contain the virus vesicles.
Moreover, there is no vouching for the hygiene practices of people. There have been reports of traces of coronavirus being present in feces, that might get into the air during flushing. Whereas more evidence is needed to substantiate the hows and the whys of this, there is no arguing that the risk does exist.
Furthermore, many ladies use the rest room to freshen up their makeup, which involves taking off the mask. This also makes them vulnerable to the viral droplets in the air.
What you can do to be safe!
It is best to get takeaway with minimal contact. The other option available is open-air outdoor dining. However, it is important to take care of periodic sanitization and visit restaurants that have COVID-19 protection protocols in place.
But even despite taking all the precautions, the risk of exposure still remains, as nothing guarantees 100% protection. Hence, you can still feel the symptoms of coronavirus that have you rushing for your family physician in Islamabad, despite eating outdoors!