As we begin to move toward opening up restaurants and continue to use carry out services per state regulations, many of us are concerned about keeping ourselves safe while wanting to eat our favorite foods and support local businesses during this health crisis.
Restaurants already take measures to reduce the risk of foodborne illness, though per the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, there is no evidence that coronavirus can be transmitted via food. We do know that coronavirus can spread through touching infected surfaces and then touching one’s eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed and contaminated hands. If you plan to pick up food from a restaurant, reduce the risk of infection by:
- Using a tissue, glove, or piece of clothing to avoid touching all door handles and common surfaces in the restaurant.
- Paying ahead of time when ordering over the phone, using a credit card instead of cash.
- Wearing a mask or face covering.
- Using hand sanitizer after picking up the food.
If you are choosing food delivery services, the goal is to minimize person to person contact. Check for restaurants that offer contact-free delivery services; when using an app to order food, you may be able to leave notes requesting contact-free delivery in a “delivery instructions” window. And Make sure to leave a nice tip for your delivery person, who is putting themselves at risk. Contaminated packages can be a source of infection. You can reduce the risk by:
- Placing all items on a clean counter after pickup or delivery and washing your hands for 20-plus seconds with soap and warm water.
- Removing food from the bag and other packaging, and washing your hands again.
- Using clean plates and other utensils to serve.
- Disposing of all food packaging, and washing your hands again afterward, cleaning any surfaces the bags have touched.
Until there is an effective treatment or vaccine for this novel coronavirus, eating at a restaurant remains a decision that will require weighing risk and considering safety. Before heading to restaurants, make sure they’re taking appropriate steps to lower risks to diners; servers should be wearing masks, menus and silverware will ideally be disposable, and seating capacity should be reduced so that tables are six feet apart. Above all, stay vigilant about your own symptoms, know your risk and monitor new cases of COVID-19 in your local community.