5 Tips for Wearing a Mask in a Restaurant
Summer heat is ramping up and making it seem almost impossible to comfortably wear a face mask, but this piece of PPE is here to stay. While jogging, biking, and other forms of exercising may seem particularly arduous to perform with a mask on, many of us are asking ourselves what eating at restaurants will look like while masks are mandatory.
Do you keep it on the whole time? Tug it to the side as you take a bite? Do you ask for a straw so you can slip it under the mask and enjoy your drink? While we're yet to see whether restaurants put forth their own set of best practices around mask-wearing, here are some basic guidelines you can follow to be a responsible citizen. Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest food and restaurant news delivered straight to your inbox.
Arrive Wearing a Mask
. . . or you may not be allowed to enter! That's right, governors of some states, like New York and Colorado, have issued executive orders that allow businesses to turn customers away if they are not wearing face masks. So if you want to make sure you get a table at a restaurant in the first place, a face mask is the equivalent to a secret password that will get you in the door (just like shoes and shirts before it).
When the Food Comes, Take Your Mask Off
Experts agree that taking your mask off and putting it back on between bites would actually be counterproductive to its efficiency. According to Durland Fish, PhD, professor emeritus of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, so much constant fussing with your mask could actually increase the risk of spreading coronavirus from your mask to your hands (and then spreading it around). Whatever the reasoning, you can enjoy your food as a rare respite from mask-wearing. Here are some other mistakes you may be making with your mask.
Remove Your Mask Safely
To remove your mask safely, experts recommend handling the straps instead of grabbing the fabric that covers your actual face. The front of your mask is probably the most contaminated part, either from your own respiratory droplets or from the environment, so touching the fabric poses another risk of cross-contamination.
Bring a Bag For Your Mask
When you remove your mask to eat at the restaurant, don't just throw it into the depths of your purse, or even worse, place it on the table. It's best to bring a clean, breathable receptacle for your mask, like a paper bag, so any moisture that remains on it has time to dry. This way, you're preventing growth of any mold or fungus on your mask. Some restaurants will provide you with a bag, but it's always safest to bring your own just in case they don't.
Put the Mask Back on Right After Eating
Your friendly waitstaff might provide some guidelines to their preferred mask-wearing etiquette. But it's a safe bet that once you're done eating, your mask should go back on your face, especially before the waiter comes to clear your plates and bring you the check.