In recent weeks, restrictions have been loosened on indoor dining, and many states have removed indoor mask mandates for vaccinated people following new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, health experts have cautioned against indoor dining, and many still say that there’s reason to be vigilant. While COVID-19 cases are going down, there are still several thousand cases being diagnosed each day, putting diners and restaurant staff alike at risk. In November, a study from Stanford University called full-service, indoor restaurants potential “superspreader” settings, and a recent analysis from the University of California highlighted the risk to workers: Line cooks had a 60% increase in mortality associated with the pandemic, according to CNBC.
However, fully vaccinated diners who choose to eat inside face significantly less risk of contracting the virus, especially if they are in an area with high vaccination rates.
“For the most part, it’s certainly much safer than it’s been for the past year and half if you’re fully vaccinated,” said Dr. Ian Gonsenhauser, the chief quality and patient safety officer at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Gonsenhauser developed COVID-19 procedures for the facility.
What’s the safest way to dine out?
Gonsenhauser said that if you are vaccinated, indoor dining is “safe again,” especially if you are in an area with low transmission and high vaccination rates. People who are fully vaccinated are still at some risk for contracting coronavirus, but that risk drops as the people around them get vaccinated.
“Given the number of people that are now vaccinated, 50% of the country has at least their first dose of the vaccine and about 40% have been vaccinated completely,” said Gonsenhauser. “That means there’s a lot less COVID in our communities … And so if you’re vaccinated, you have a low chance to begin with, given your vaccine status, and your chance and your risk is lowered even further by there being fewer cases in the community.”
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