Posted by Dr. Thomas Horowitz

As Los Angeles County gradually lifts the ‘Safer at Home’ restrictions, more businesses are allowed to open to the public, while following the required safety protocols. Many of you may plan to visit your favorite local restaurant or cafe after three months of lockdown and staying indoors.

With the reopening of restaurants, there may be changes in etiquette needed for disease protection and to assure business viability. The restaurant industry has a remarkably low profit margin. As such efficient use of space and turnover of tables are important factors governing the survival of a restaurant. With the new safety precautions and social distancing measures, there will be inefficient use of space and turnover will become even more important.

  • You must wear a face mask/ facing covering and follow social distancing guidelines (stay at least six feet away from others). Always carry a hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).
  • To avoid crowding in the waiting area, restaurants may ask you to wait in your car until called or a strict reservation policy may be enforced.
  • You may also be asked to preorder your meal to improve efficiency.
  • The staff may minimize trips to your table to minimize exposure and it will be an important courtesy to have everyone at the table wear their face mask when the server approaches.
  • Service will be slow to allow proper sanitation—you need to be patient.

During your visit to the restaurant or while attending a social gathering or public event, you may be exposed to a crowd of people. You need to evaluate the risk of crowded areas you visited: Was everyone wearing a mask? Was there good air flow? Were you seated indoors or outdoors? Did you spend more than a few minutes surrounded by people? If there is an increased risk, you must protect yourself and your family.

  • When in doubt, you must self-quarantine. Try to stay in your own room and wear a mask when you share the room with others.
  • Get a baseline COVID test a few days after your exposure in the crowded place and again at the two-week mark.
  • Report any symptoms to you doctor or nurse advice line.
  • Do not share food, dishes, or other personal items with your family members or those living with you.
  • After you reach two-week mark without symptoms and have received multiple negative tests, you can enjoy knowing you have done what you needed to protect yourself and others.

We will need to adapt to the new protocols to ensure that food services survive this situation. As you step outside, it is important to not let your guard down and continue to follow safety measures as the Coronavirus is still in our community.
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