Dining out at restaurants has provided a bit of normalcy to the crazy world we are living in. We may have become accustomed to cooking for ourselves at home, but there’s nothing quite like visiting your favorite restaurant and getting some comfort food.
We all want to support our favorite local restaurants, however diners do need to be mindful of the restaurant staff, and think about how to be more considerate during your interactions in this new normal.
Your best bet: if you are not actively eating or drinking, you should have your mask on. We KNOW that’s a drag. It may be more difficult to hear what someone in your party is saying, or you may not be able to read their facial expressions as well. These may seem like inconveniences, but they are all part of the new social contract in a world coping with a pandemic.
You should be wearing your mask:
- When you arrive at the restaurant (and when you depart). As you gather with your party, hold each other accountable and make sure that everyone has their masks placed over their nose and mouth. Take note of any signage, floor decals and/or plastic guards when you approach the host stand. Do not stand to the side of the guard to speak with staff.
If you need to wait for a table, make sure the host knows how to find or contact you and wait at least six feet apart from the host stand and/or other diners waiting outside. Consider asking the host where you should wait if there is a lobby as they may have a specific policy. Ask the host about menus (if you didn’t already decide on your order before arriving) as some are offering menus via a QR code to read on your phone. The host may or may not have physical menus to provide for you to read while you wait.
- Any time that you are walking through the restaurant. Once you sit down at the table (and thank the host), do not remove your mask. If you need to get up to use the bathroom or ask the host a question, continue to wear your mask. Read and follow any guidelines laid out in the signage around the restaurant and respect social distancing guidelines as you pass by other diners and staff.
- Whenever ANY staff (host, server, runner, etc.) approach the table. Keep your mask on while they are present. While your server is speaking to you and discussing the specials, they may ask you to repeat yourself (or vice versa), but it is far more respectful to keep your mask in place. Diners should also be cognizant of wearing masks when food and/or drinks arrive along with when your place is being cleared.
After your meal is over and the server arrives with the check, please make sure you are wearing your mask again. Some restaurants even offer touchless payment systems and don’t require you to take out your wallet, touch a bill folio and/or pen.
While it may be slightly cumbersome and disruptive to put your mask on and off during a meal, it is important to consider the staff’s safety and comfort as well as your own.
Bottom line? Wear your mask if you are not eating or drinking. Restaurants are taking extraordinary care to protect diners and staff. At Seattle’s Ivar’s Salmon House, “servers change gloves after every customer interaction, while one worker is devoted to wiping down handrails, doors, bathroom surfaces and more.” Ultimately all of the training, cleaning, and preparation measures are only truly effective when every aspect of every person’s interactions are mindful of health and safety.
Trust20 is the new standard of restaurant safety and diner comfort, based on 20 tactics by health and safety experts. Supported by Gordon Food Service and General Mills, Trust20 provides an independently verified certification of restaurant practices, training, and other resources to help restaurants create safe, healthy, and welcome spaces for diners. www.trust20.co, @Trust20USA