People’s tolerance for pandemic restrictions and social distancing seem to be waning, as the record-breaking 120,000-plus new cases per day partially indicate. Summer allowed for some taste of normalcy that many don’t want to give up — now, colder weather pushes us indoors, the distance between us decreases and cases rise accordingly. Is there anything we can do to hold on to some form of in-person socializing, particularly with an activity like eating that requires removing your mask?
The Centers for Disease Control has continually been expanding its recommendations over the last several months, offering some insight on how to best do the activities some just refuse to give up. Naturally, most of those involve eating. What their recommendations broadly state is that, yes, you can have a meal with someone — so long as you follow the damn rules.
Dining is split between two major categories: dining in restaurants, or dining in someone’s home. The precautions you’ll want to take will vary for each. In both cases, though, the safest way of eating with someone you don’t already live with is to do so outdoors and to wear a mask while not eating. If you really want to eat a meal with someone, you’re going to have to adjust to the idea of being cold, depending on your climate. Even if you can’t perfectly maintain six feet of distance between each other (which you should still strive for), being outdoors is still safer than being indoors. As you look ahead toward major gathering meals like Thanksgiving, it’s definitely not a bad idea to purchase some outdoor dining furniture, and maybe some type of fire pit while you’re at it. Keep in mind, though, that the CDC states that having an outdoor dinner with people outside of your household will still present moderate risk.
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For eating with someone indoors, the usual COVID-19 rules still apply. Even if you’re able to open the windows, given that you’re in an enclosed space, staying six feet apart is largely non-negotiable if you’re trying to be safe. This might mean you have to get creative with your dining location — unless you have a giant dining table, it might be better to sit across the room from each other while eating. Maybe you’ll have to sit on the floor but, whatever, have some fun with it.
Indoors or out, you might also want to play restaurant… and waitress. The CDC recommends designating one or two people to manage serving the food, so that people aren’t sharing serving utensils. This may not totally apply if you’re only having one person over, but it’s also polite. Again, try to have fun with it.
Sharing a meal with someone isn’t totally impossible during the pandemic. The CDC knows you’re going to do it anyway, but it’s best to follow their guidelines: Stay outside if you can, keep six feet apart and wear your mask when you’re not eating. If you can’t follow the rules, you can’t have dinner.