Tips to make dining out safer

by Tallahassee Table

With coronavirus rates going up and reports of employees at a few restaurants testing positive for Covid-19, we’re all concerned, once again, about what we can do to stay safe or at least minimize our risks when dining out.

Keep in mind that pretty much every restaurant is still offering a good selection of their menu for takeout, and that’s considered low risk. And while it’s not as attractive in these summer months, socially distanced outside dining is still an option.

But if dining-in is what you want, and you want to ensure your safety and that of others, here are a few questions you can research beforehand on websites or social media, or can ask directly of the restaurant. (Please add your own suggestions in the comments.)

If the restaurant has no such information online, or is reluctant to answer your questions consider going somewhere else.

But remember this is two-way street. That means customers, too, should practice precautions to keep employees from getting sick. I’ve been to some places where all the employees wore masks but the customers were cavalier, expecting the staff to do all the work. Now that masks are mandatory in Leon County, hopefully we’ll see people comply and this will be less of an issue.

This seems obvious, but don’t go to a restaurant if you’re not feeling well or have been in contact with someone who has had Covid-19. As they say, we’re all in this together.

This information has nothing to do with politics. It starts with the premise that you believe masks and other safety measures can help prevent the spread of coronavirus and it’s the right thing to do. These are tips and suggestions I’ve come across from health experts, customers and restaurants themselves.

Here’s what to know about restaurants before dining in:

Do they practice social distancing (keeping customers not in the same family six feet apart?) If you walk in a place and people are seated closely together, go somewhere else.

Does staff wear masks that cover both nose and mouth? Again, if staff is barefaced, go elsewhere. I’ve found that most restaurants are good about having staff masked up. Wear yours, too. The new county rules say customers are exempt when they’re eating or drinking. While waiting to be seated, ordering, walking to the restroom and paying the bill, you can wear a mask..

Do they have disposable menus? Digital ordering? Contactless payment? What features are important to you. Find out or ask before you go.

Observe your surroundings. Do you see staffers wiping down tables with disinfectant as they bus away the dirty dishes? That’s a good sign.

Does the restaurant offer hand sanitizer upon entry? Or on the tables? Another good sign. Even better: Seeing the staff use the sanitizer.

Remember, there are a lot of extremely conscientious restaurant owners in town who are trying to survive while keeping their staffs and customers safe. It’s a tremendous challenge, so have patience. Not trying to nag or be judgemental but we’re all navigating a new world, in the kitchen and in the dining room. Let’s all do our part.

Update: Masks are now mandatory in Leon County, so if you don’t have one here are places where you can get one for free or buy one from a local shop or individual.

Distribution of Free Cloth Face Coverings at County Libraries

Starting Wednesday, June 24, Leon County will make thousands of free face coverings available for pickup at all County library locations during regular hours, listed below. Individuals may request one covering and may also pick up one covering for each immediate family member.

  • Main Library (200 West Park Avenue)
  • Dr. B.L. Perry, JR. Branch Library (2817 South Adams Street)
  • Eastside Branch Library (1583 Pedrick Road)
  • Jane G. Sauls Fort Braden Branch Library (16327 Blountstown Highway)
  • Lake Jackson Branch Library (3840 North Monroe Street)
  • Northeast Branch Library (5513 Thomasville Road)
  • Woodville Branch Library (8000 Old Woodville Road)

I came across this list under Leon County’s Covid-19 info of places and people making masks. I can’t confirm they’re all still continuing but you can check these out as possible sources for crafty mask making.

Local Businesses

MiMi’s Magical Menageries
JMD Blankets
Obsessions Gifts
Hard Velvet Handmade
That Crafty MF
Stone Age
The Halfway Point

Local Individuals

Anne Bewley– Email: [email protected] Phone: 850-274-6345
Eunique Skepple– Email: [email protected] Phone: 859-358-8111
Krishna Baral– Email: [email protected] Phone: 850-339-6251
Laurie- Email: [email protected] *Masks have clear panel for lip reaMask or no mask? That’s the question posed by County Commissioner Kristin Dozier Friday on whether to require citizens to wear face masks

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