Do not linger in a restaurant, even if you have been vaccinated

As vaccinations continue to accelerate in the US, some areas of normal life are slowly starting to return. In some areas this includes the return of eating out in restaurants, as many local ordinances against indoor eating and capacity rules are being lifted. But with the threat of COVID still present, experts are warning you still shouldn’t hang around your table in a restaurant – even if you’ve been vaccinated, CNN reports. Read on to see what they recommend, and for more information on where you still shouldn’t go after taking your photos, check out Dr. Fauci just said to avoid this one place, even if you have been vaccinated.

Shutterstock / Ercan Mercankaya

No one can be faulted for wanting to enjoy every minute sitting at your favorite restaurant, especially after it has probably been a while since you last enjoyed a meal. But experts say one of the safest things you can do is keep your visit as soon as possible.

“If you are going to be very close to other people and there are a lot of diners together, I would try to limit the time as much as possible,” Leana Wen, MD, an emergency physician and visiting professor of health policy and management at George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, told CNN. In most cases, you can do this by sticking to one course and looking at a menu beforehand so you know exactly what to order when you sit at the table. And for more current COVID information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

A young woman who eats in a restaurant while socially removed from other customers

Even if you’ve already been vaccinated, eating out in public also means stepping into an area where there may be people who are still susceptible to the virus. And even though COVID protects you from becoming seriously ill, there is still a chance that you are contagious and “potentially expose someone else to illness, who could eventually develop serious illness”, There is Stewart, MD, a family physician with Cooperative Health in Columbia, South Carolina, and the president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, told CNN.

Stewart says this makes the risk level of someone eating indoors the same for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people, making it important to try to get at least six feet between you and other guests and wear your mask when you’re not eating to drink. “You still have to be very careful when you’re in these areas. You’re in a crowd and you don’t know the status of many of these individuals,” he added. And for more information on where officials say you shouldn’t go, check out The CDC Warns You to Avoid This One Place Even If You’ve Been Vaccinated.

Group of friends, people eating outside
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With spring in full swing, some of the outdoor seating that was too cold for the colder months is quickly becoming the main real estate for a meal in the city. They also happen to be a much safer alternative to eating indoors, because ventilation reduces the chance of exposing others to your exhaled drops, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines say.

However, it is important to point out that while small enclosed dining booths such as huts, tents or domes can protect you from the elements, they can also put you and anyone you eat with at risk. CDC guidelines say that fully vaccinated groups are at low risk in these types of situations. But if your table combines people from different households who have not been vaccinated, you should try to avoid these types of seating arrangements.

senior customer while waiter takes order in restaurant amid covid, both wearing masks
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The highly effective vaccines that have been rolled out mean that your risk of contracting COVID is significantly reduced once you receive your injections. Wen tells CNN that if you and your dining partners are fully vaccinated and “can be separated at least six feet from others … I would have no restriction on that time period,” stressing that your entire party should be immunized for this to be fair to be.

But if you’re going out for dinner with someone who hasn’t already gotten all the required doses, there are a few other red flags to watch out for to avoid a potentially risky situation while you’re having a snack. The agency’s guidelines warn against ‘eating in poorly ventilated restaurants, where social distance is not possible, servers and staff do not wear masks and diners do not wear masks when not actively eating or drinking’, and to avoid entering if you spot any of these. And for more information on how to prepare for your shots, check out Don’t Do This the Night Before Your Vaccination Appointment, Experts Say.