Editor’s Note: During the coronavirus pandemic, there are few activities that do not pose any risks, but there are ways to mitigate them. Of course, people who have already been fully vaccinated have a much lower risk of catching and transmitting the coronavirus than those who have not yet been vaccinated. Dr. CNN medical analyst Leana Wen recommends that you keep this in mind when making decisions about what to do.
(CNN) – As the percentage of the vaccinated population increases, you may be wondering if it is finally time to enjoy a meal that you have not prepared at home or bought on the go.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), eating and drinking indoors in restaurants and bars is more risky than elsewhere for a number of reasons. On the one hand, people from different houses have been gathered in the same room. To this it is added that to eat and drink you have to take off your mask.
“You still have to be very careful when you’re in these areas,” said Dr. Ada Stewart, a family physician at Cooperative Health in Columbia, South Carolina, and president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. “You’re in a crowd and you don’t know the status of many of those people,” he explained.
What should you do before arriving at the restaurant?
The way the restaurants are laid out can make it difficult to maintain a social distance. And because restaurants can be noisy at times, people can talk louder and louder, which could increase the chances of spreading the coronavirus through respiratory droplets.
Depending on a restaurant’s ventilation flow, respiratory droplets and possibly coronavirus-laden air can accumulate or spread beyond two meters.
In view of these risks, the CDC guidelines for eating in restaurant areas are the same for people who have been vaccinated and those who have not.
If you’re fully vaccinated and infected, you probably won’t get sick with symptoms, Stewart said. But “you can potentially expose someone else to the disease, people who can get a serious condition,” he explained.
If you plan to eat out, first check that the restaurant you have chosen meets the prevention measures recommended by the CDC. You can see this on the restaurant’s website or call and ask.
Restaurants that reduce risk include restaurants that have space to sit outside and keep their distance, restaurants where both employees and customers wear masks when they are not eating or drinking, and restaurants that have their menu available online.
Eating and drinking in the space of an establishment is safer, according to the CDC, because in that case the air or respiratory droplets that may be loaded with coronavirus would not circulate through an enclosed space.
Other tips to make your time in the restaurant safer
Limit your alcohol consumption so you can make informed decisions. If possible, ask for condiments that come in individual packages, including salt, pepper, and ketchup. And don’t share food.
Since the risk of contamination increases the longer you spend in a place, limit the length of your stay at the restaurant, the CDC suggests. “If you want to be really close to other people and there are a lot of dinner parties together, I would try to minimize the time,” says Dr. Leana Wen, a medical analyst at CNN, emergency room and visiting professor, told CNN. of Health Policy and Management from George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.
Other things you can do to minimize the time you spend in the restaurant is to order in advance and not order appetizers or more than one dish.
But if you’re fully vaccinated, “you can stay at least six feet apart from others and be with someone who’s also been fully vaccinated,” said Wen, “I wouldn’t limit the time.” The people you meet must also be fully vaccinated.
All people should cover their coughs and sneezes and wash their hands regularly.