We’re all in the throes of adjusting to the impact Coronavirus on our lives. One of the questions we thought about is visiting our favorite restaurants for some relief from being so home bound. How do you make that decision?
Dr. Robert Amler, Dean of the School of Health Sciences and Practice at New York Medical College and a former CDC Chief Medical Officer who coordinated medical monitoring for anthrax response teams, discussed best practices for those who do want to eat out, or have food delivered in a recent article in Food & Wine magazine.
Dr. Amler’s Check List includes:
- Removing restaurant tables to improve social distancing.
- Regularly cleaning and sanitizing all surfaces in the restaurant.
- Creating disposable menus and using them only once.
- Providing hand sanitizer throughout the dining room.
- Using gloves when setting the table.
- Removing all shared and common elements from the restaurant including caddies, silverware in bins, sauces, and paper towels.
- Requiring all team members who are preparing, serving, and clearing food or tables to wear gloves at all times.
- Mandating that all employees wash their hands immediately following clearing any tables.
- Sending home any employee who does not feel well.
Is anything 100% safe? No. If you are sick, you have any underlying conditions that may make infection more severe, or if you live with or care for someone who is vulnerable you may want to refrain from eating out.
When it comes to ordering in, the food itself is unlikely to be much of a danger, according to Stephen Morse, an epidemiologist at Columbia University in an article in The Atlantic. Even if the person preparing it is sick Morse states, “cooked foods are unlikely to be a concern unless they get contaminated after cooking.” He granted that “a salad, if someone sneezes on it, might possibly be some risk,” but as long as the food is handled properly, he said, “there should be very little risk.”
The delivery interaction could be a different story. For the recipient, the risk is relatively low. If the food is packed in plastic containers, sanitize the outside of the container then wash your hands.
Mail or Online Deliveries
As a side note, if you are worried about other kinds of deliveries – mail or online shopping orders – according to Morse, they are also relatively unlikely to transmit the virus. Wash your hands after opening them just to be safe.
From the CDC
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a great reminder. “The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.”
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