The coronavirus pandemic is over half-a-year old. And, while daily case numbers have come down from their peak, they still remain at high levels across the country.
But, amid rising coronavirus cases in Maharashtra, the state government on Wednesday announced reopening of restaurants and bars to further ease down restrictions. Hotels, restaurants and bars will be allowed to operate with 50 per cent capacity from October 5. Separate SOPs will be issued by the state tourism department for necessary precautions to be taken while operating these establishments.
The restaurant dining experience as we once knew it is now gone. In the age of COVID-19, it has been replaced with six-foot spacing between tables, pumps of hand sanitizer, disposable menus, and masks for customers and employees.
While the state government has announced reopening of restaurants and bars, a Mumbai-based doctor explains what precautions one should take while eating out.
"We are facing this pandemic since March and still the cases are coming in. And, over the course of time we have seen that as we introduce more unlocks, the cases keep increasing. I would say don't go out of the house unless it’s an emergency or important work," Dr Harish Chafle, Consultant Intensivist and Chest Physician, Global Hospital, Mumbai.
He also urged that the government norms for COVID-19 pandemic be followed to the T. "While visiting such places mask is a must, use hand sanitiser and maintain a safe distance from others. These precautions have to be taken while stepping out," Dr Harish said. He added that if someone has fever or such kind of symptoms one shouldn't step out of the house at all.
"The biggest risk of getting infected with coronavirus is while having food, because this is the only time one cannot wear a mask. So maintaining a safe distance is must while having food in restaurants, because you don't whether the opposite person is COVID-19 positive or negative," Dr Harish advised.
Dr Harish also said one must use hand sanitiser before touching anything in restaurants and bars. "I am sure the restaurants will take precautions, like sanitising the whole area. But, before touching anything people should sanitise their hands with alcohol-based sanitiser or wash them with soap and water," he added.
As restrictions ease down, many people who have been confined to their homes will naturally want to step out. "As people have been in their homes for six months, and now as the government is further easing restrictions this will overwhelm people and they will go wild. I don't think we should keep the lockdown forever, but we should be properly equipped and ready to handle the rising number of cases as well,” Dr Harish added.
Want to step out to eat at your favourite place, be sure to follow these:
Before you eat at a restaurant, check the restaurant's safety practices.
Check whether the employees wear cloth face coverings.
Check if the place is regularly disinfecting high-touch surfaces and practising social distancing.
Check if the place has good ventilation.
Check whether the tables set are far enough apart from each other to allow for social distancing.
Also check whether the menu cards are digital or disposable.