Some Thoughts about Dining in a Time of COVID-19

When we look back at the U.S. response to COVID-19, keeping restaurant dining open while prevalence was high will have to go down as a very bad idea. Both the CDC and multiple jurisdictions have found associations between dining and increased prevalence or clusters of cases.

Obviously, even takeout can’t be done remotely, but using the dining area to more safely handle the takeout business can protect workers. Regardless of where you line up in the droplets versus aerosols debate, it doesn’t matter if you’re sitting three feet away from someone without a mask and breathing at them–and outdoors dining (and certainly ‘outdoors’ dining) doesn’t change that too much (true outdoor dining is probably safer in that aerosols can’t accumulate, but not that much safer at close range with repeated exposures over the course of a meal). And the dining debate neglects that people have to get to the dining establishment: I see a lot of people piling into and out of cars, when it’s pretty obvious they’re not in the same household.

Admittedly, as I noted early on, it’s easy to survive low risk events once or twice, but if enough people do something, what seems to be an unlikely event becomes a near certainty (which then increases the risk per event).

Guess we needed that local tax revenue though.

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