Even as more New Yorkers return to restaurant dining, safety remains a top priority for restaurant owners. Restaurant owners are saying they aren’t the only ones that should be taking safety precautions – diners should take care to make the experience safer for themselves, other diners, and restaurant workers.
The following are some do’s and don’ts for patrons to make their dining experience as safe as possible:
- Wear a mask when entering a restaurant. Whether it’s asking the hostess for a table or going to the restroom, diners should always wear a mask, restaurant owners told Crain’s New York Business. Most people understand and follow this rule by now, but customers sometimes need a gentle reminder to mask up.
- Dine in small groups. Having too many people at a table can be risky for the diners, the waitstaff, and even passersby. Some restaurants have limitations on group sizes. It can be particularly worrying when groups of friends meet up.
- Don’t crowd around the restaurant waiting to be seated. An executive order signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo mandated that restaurants maintain order and crowding within 100 feet of their establishments. This means that if people aren’t being safe while waiting to be seated, the restaurant can face a penalty. If it’s crowded, it’s respectful to go for a short walk while waiting to be seated.
- Keep your mask handy. Most diners take their masks off as soon as they’re seated and only put them back on if they have to use the restroom. After all, it can be difficult to interact with friends or family when you’re wearing a mask. For the waitstaff’s safety, stay masked when first being seated (until the waiter, waitress or hostess departs), when you are ordering, and generally when the waitstaff approaches the table for any reason. You should also mask up when standing or moving around the table.
- Don’t move seats or ask for your table to be changed after you’ve been seated. There may be the occasional rare exception but remember that tables are sanitized after each use. Asking for your table to be changed can be risky and can make more work for those who disinfect and reset tables. Also, try not to swap or add chairs to your original seating arrangement. If chairs are added or moved, they may not be the state-mandated six feet apart from others.
- Be sensitive about how much time you spend at the restaurant. Restaurants have limited capacities, and it’s important to be considerate, and not stay too long when the restaurant could be rotating in new diners. Once the bill is paid, guests should start preparing to leave, not spend too much time hanging out.
- Don’t ask friends to join you for drinks after you’ve already eaten. Per the governor’s rules, restaurants can’t serve patrons alcoholic beverages if they aren’t ordering food to go with it. Too many people at a table create a safety issue and make it difficult to be socially distanced from other diners.
- DO NOT go out to eat if you’re feeling sick. Even if you’re outside, you should not be around others if you feel sick. It’s a risk for your waiter, and those dining out around you. The CDC recommends staying home for at least 14 days if you’re not feeling well or have come into contact with someone who had Covid-19.
- Be nice and tip well. Restaurant workers are working under extraordinarily challenging circumstances. Try to be patient and reward them for literally risking their lives and health to serve you. If it takes a little longer than you’d hoped to get your food or be seated, give people a break – and leave a nice tip. They deserve it.
Source: Crain’s New York Business