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Expect to Answer These Health Questions When Booking a Table at Some Restaurants

Reservation apps are considering asking patrons to fill out health questionnaires before booking a table.

As of mid-May, cities across the country began lifting restrictions, which means restaurants have been able to reopen their doors at last. However, dining-in looks drastically different now than it did in February, with restaurants only allowing 25 to 50% of their typical capacity in the dining room.

If you were ordering takeout and delivery during the pandemic, good on you, but now it's time to give your favorite local restaurants a little extra support by going to dine-in from time to time. In an effort to make the dining experience safe during the pandemic (especially in large cities), several restaurant reservation apps are making strides to prevent sick or recently exposed customers from coming into the establishment.

According to Eater, Illinois' (Chicago included) new dining guidelines suggest that restaurants should require patrons wanting to dine-in to take a questionnaire regarding their recent health history. Popular reservation apps such as Resy, OpenTable, and Tock are also trying to implement questions like "have you experienced temperatures over 100 degrees" or "have you been exposed to someone with the virus, recently" in the booking process.

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These same reservation apps are also working to help restaurants manage traffic flow by offering virtual waiting lists to prevent crowding in the lobby or by the host stand. Resy's capacity monitor will allow restaurants to plug their capacity limit into the app so that it knows when to notify users that the restaurant is at maximum capacity.

This same system also makes contact tracing possible. In the event that someone who recently dined at the restaurant tested positive for COVID-19, the app will be able to assess who else may have been exposed that night and notify them accordingly.

Remember, one of the worst things you can do at a restaurant right now is linger after you've finished your meal. Not only does this put you at a higher risk of exposure, but it also slows the pace at which new customers can come in and support the restaurant. Daniel Rosen MD, bariatric surgeon, and concierge COVID-19 medical adviser told Eat This, Not That! that your restaurant visit should be short enough to not have to use the restroom.

"That's one way to avoid using the bathroom, as it's probably the most highly trafficked area in the restaurant," he said.

Hopefully, these apps are successful at introducing these health questionnaires, because it's just one more way restaurants can take precaution and keep the dining area safe for both the customers and staff.

Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the news editor of <Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and drink coverage, and breaking down the science behind the latest health studies and information. Read more