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Dining Out Is Riskier if Your Restaurant Has This in Its Dining Room

Experts say this helps the coronavirus travel farther in the air and affect more people.
Restaurant booths.jpg

Restrictions are lifting and restaurants are opening up for more than just carryout or delivery. That means dining-in is an option again. Things look different, and there's no timetable for returning to pre-virus eating out. But there's one thing we know for sure — safety is still the priority, and if a restaurant has an air-conditioner or fan in the dining room, you could be more at risk for catching the virus

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The CDC says the virus spreads from person to person through droplets that are released when someone who is infected sneezes or coughs. Masks help prevent the spread of these droplets that can land on surfaces and live there for a few days, says the Cleveland Clinic. Restaurants are also riskier than staying home because you can't wear a mask when you eat. The news of the risks of air conditioning and airflow in an inclosed space comes from a study done in China. Researchers found that families sitting at neighboring tables in a restaurant were exposed to the coronavirus from one person. 

Why is air conditioning risky?

In total, the one person infected nine. That the number was high because the restaurant has an air conditioner located above one of the tables. It created a current of air that picked up droplets and forced them past all three tables. The restaurant also has no windows that could have aided in ventilation. 

Surprisingly, none of the people at tables on the other side of the restaurant became infected. Keep this in mind when choosing a restaurant to eat at post-lockdown. Sitting away from the risky air conditioning or outside is safer. And, of course, washing your hands after touching the menu and before eating are great options, too. Don't be surprised if the salad bar is closed, tables aren't set or your waiter doesn't offer you water from a shared pitcher or a fresh lemon or limethose could be things of the past

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Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.
Amanda McDonald
Amanda McDonald is a health and food writer and a certified yoga instructor. Read more
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