12 Rules for Dining Out During a Pandemic

Don’t talk when your mouth is full. Keep your elbows off the table. These are just some of the things we were taught as children when it comes to dining in a restaurant or in somebody else’s house. Today, however, these rules have changed ever so slightly due to the pandemic.

ALSO READ: Dubai Releases Updated COVID-19 Safety Rules for Eateries

The ongoing crisis led to the temporary closure of many establishments, including restaurants and cafes, for quite some time. Now that many of them have started operating again, don’t be surprised to see some changes in terms of seating arrangement, hygiene, and mode of payment.

Rules for Dining Out During a Pandemic

Quick Guide to Eating Out Amid a Pandemic

If you are planning to eat out anytime soon, here are some helpful tips and suggestions:

1. Be aware of local laws and regulations.

Every town, city, or state has its own laws and regulations for restaurants and cafes during the pandemic. Before going out, make sure that you know all of these measures.

Here in Dubai, for instance, each table is allowed up to a maximum of eight guests only. Restaurants are also required to set a two-metre distance between tables; otherwise, they could place dividers on the table instead. Meanwhile, in Abu Dhabi, restaurants may operate at 80 percent capacity only. Tables must be placed two metres apart, and each table is allowed up to a maximum of four guests.

Knowing these new regulations will enable you, as the diner, to decide how many guests can come to the restaurant with you. Based on the seating limitations, take note that you will not be able to request for additional chairs or tables, unless you made prior arrangements.

2. Ask the restaurant for their specific rules.

Aside from being aware of the local laws, it’s also important to know the specific rules of the restaurant you plan to dine in. Do not hesitate to call the restaurant in advance, so you can ask about the maximum number of guests allowed and the accessories needed (e.g. face mask, face shield) for your own protection as well as those of the waiters, staff, and other diners.

3. Make a reservation.

Having chosen and deciding to eat in a restaurant, don’t forget to make a reservation. This will enable the restaurant to plan seating arrangements and to avoid overcrowding. If, for some reason, you need to cancel your reservation, be sure to call the restaurant as soon as possible.

4. Don’t stay too long.

Gone are the days when we can linger over coffee and dessert, chatting (and sometimes, singing karaoke) after having a meal. You see, after you leave, the restaurant will need time to clean, sanitize, and prepare the table for the next guests. And so, keep your visit reasonably short, or ask the restaurant if there is a specific time limit for everyone. This way, everyone can be full, satisfied… and safe!

5. Wash your hands.

One of the basic ways to keep germs and sickness away is by washing your hands regularly. Before eating, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. Another option would be to use a hand sanitizer. Either way, hand-washing or hand-rubbing is necessary to help prevent the spread of germs and diseases!

6. Practice social distancing.

Although restaurants are required to place a two-metre distance between tables, don’t forget that social distancing is also your responsibility. So as much as possible, try to maintain a safe distance between you and other guests.

Rules for Dining Out During a Pandemic

7. Follow safety markers.

As part of social distancing rules, many restaurants have placed floor markers and other safety signages for everyone to follow. These may include floor markers with arrows (indicating the proper “flow of traffic” to the restroom), floor markers between people in a queue to the cashier, and other signages.

8. Wear a face mask whenever leaving the table.

It’s okay to remove your mask when it’s time to eat and drink at your table, but you should put it back on whenever you get up to use the restroom, go to the cashier, and so on. Meanwhile, as you eat and drink, never put your mask on the table; instead, put it inside your pocket or bag, to keep in line with health and hygiene practices.

9. Avoid touching surfaces unless necessary.

As much as possible, avoid touching surfaces. If there’s a menu on display, you can order from there instead of having to hold a printed menu. Similarly, avoid touching other people’s plates and utensils; if possible, opt for individual “complete” meals instead of food-sharing platters. Again, this is for your own health and safety!

10. Be patient and kind.

The new rules and regulations may take some time getting used to. Orders can take longer to prepare, the menu may be limited, communication may be more difficult since everyone has to wear face masks, and eating out is just not the same since you have to practice social distancing. And so, you will need to be more compassionate, patient, and kind. Everyone — you, restaurant staff, other diners — is still adjusting to this “new normal” after all!

11. Mind your manners.

The addition of new rules does not take away the importance of basic restaurant etiquette: placing a napkin on your lap, chewing with your mouth closed, saying “please” and “thank you,” and other standard rules when dining out. “Manners maketh man,” as the old saying goes!

12. Opt for a “contact-less” payment method.

Thanks to technology, we can now make contact-less payments using our mobile phones, digital wallets, and the like. Although paying with cash or card is still acceptable, these new payment methods enable us to stay safe, even while shopping or dining out.

Rules for Dining Out During a Pandemic

By keeping these tips and rules in mind, you can look forward to a safe and pleasant dining experience. On the other hand, if you prefer to dine at home, you can always learn how to make your favourite restaurant recipe! You can also use these apps whenever you need to order food, groceries, medicine, and other necessities.

READ NEXT: Full List of Fines for Violators of COVID-19 Rules