Dining out may be a serious factor in COVID-19 risk

Atlantic City casino indoor dining Sept. 6 2020

"In addition to dining at a restaurant, case-patients were more likely to report going to a bar/coffee shop, but only when the analysis was restricted to participants without close contact with persons with known COVID-19 before illness onset", the scientists added.

However, the study concludes that the results show it's important to keep assessing the risk of various activities as communities, schools and workplaces reopen, and to keep following mitigation strategies like wearing a face mask and social distancing.

Relaxation of face mask requirements in restaurants, coffee shops, and bars could make the venues prime areas for transmission of coronavirus, reported HealthDay (Sept. 10). "As communities reopen, efforts to reduce possible exposures at locations that offer on-site eating and drinking options should be considered to protect customers, employees, and communities", the study states.

The study also said that among people who tested positive, 42% reported having "close contact" with somebody who had COVID-19, compared to 14% of people in the study group who tested negative.

A political appointee of President Trump has been interfering with COVID-19 reports by health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention because their data doesn't match the "optimistic messages" sought by the White House. "Masks can not be effectively worn while eating and drinking, whereas shopping and numerous other indoor activities do not preclude mask use", the report says.

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Deutsch also said that people going out to eateries without symptoms is "the No. 1 issue" because people are asymptomatic and "75% of the patients I see with COVID don't have symptoms, and those with symptoms are typically very mild".

The study suggests air circulation in restaurants could be linked to the higher number of cases linked to dining out, noting that the direction, ventilation, and intensity of airflow could affect transmission. They also had to rate how well they followed the social distancing rules.

Restaurants will have to abide by other rules including temperature-checking guests at the door, enhanced filtration, and one member of each party providing contact information for tracing purposes.

"It's vital that we start moving forward with this sector of our hospitality industry who have endured one of the toughest paths for sustaining a business during this pandemic", he said.

Murphy said "the chances are relatively low" there will be any significant spikes in COVID-19 cases after he lifted restrictions on restaurants. DeSantis told reporters at a restaurant roundtable discussion in Fort Myers that he will lift a 50% capacity limit on indoor dining "very soon".

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