As restaurants are reopening, new questions arise. Is it safe to go? The answer is yes, but... I wouldn’t wait in line but make certain that I can go right in or wait in my car until my table is ready.
Are the tables at least two metres enough apart? There should be no salt shakers or other items on the table that may have been handled by from the previous guest.
Menus, if provided, should be plasticized so that they can be wiped safely with disinfecting wipes before being used and obviously should be cleaned between customers.
Cutlery that has been washed properly should be safe, so you do not need to insist on disposable cutlery, glasses or plates. I would want my server to be masked and I will wear a mask until I am ready to eat. It would be nice for the restaurant to provide a plastic bag to store my mask or provide a hook on the table for that. You may want to bring your own plastic bag just in case.
It is probably safer to eat outdoors, as long as you can maintain the safe distance between your table and other tables as well as any passersby.
If you are eating indoors, I would hope that the restaurant’s ventilation system is properly maintained and follows the manufacturer’s and the government’s recommendations.
There is a report of the COVID-19 disease being spread within a restaurant in China. There didn’t seem to be any obvious reason other than the ventilation but there has been no confirmation and, so far, no other reports of the spread of this virus that way. Having said that, being outdoors is probably safest.
Your server should wash their hands before bringing out your plates and should be washing or otherwise sanitizing their hands regularly. The precautions that the cooking staff should already be taking to limit the spread of any food-borne illness should be more than adequate to protect you from the COVID-19 causing virus.
Whether you should be checked before being allowed to take your table is an interesting thought. There certainly would be no harm in asking about your exposure and checking your temperature. I would have hoped people would have had enough sense not to need to be asked but to stay at home, but an extra layer of precaution is never out of place. Should the staff be questioned and their temperatures checked before they start work? I think that would be reasonable.
It’s great that sports are starting up again. Physical activity is so important to us. Soccer and baseball will be among the first team sports to restart. It’s important that if you are sick or have been knowingly exposed to the COVID-19 virus you stay at home. Your own separate towel to wipe off and water bottle to stay hydrated are obvious precautions to take. No high-five’s or physical contact and you’ll need to maintain safe distancing on the bench.
There will be rule changes to help people stay safely apart. For example, the umpire in baseball may now be positioned behind the pitcher rather than at home base.
At the end of the day, common sense is key. You want to be reasonably careful without going overboard. It’s that delicate balancing act which is the challenge.
Dr Mitch Shulman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at McGill Medical School as well as an Attending Physician in the Emergency Department of the McGill University Health Centre. He’s also the CJAD AM 800 Medical Consultant.