The COVID-19 pandemic mitigated eating out in a big way, making restaurant outings a thing of the past — at least temporarily. Many people got their fix by ordering food to go, having it delivered or picking it up from the safety of their vehicles.
However, there have been points in this pandemic where even take-out has been questioned for its safety measures. But seniors in assisted living communities such as Park Regency in Thornton, CO, and those living in their own homes can get safe takeout even in 2021. Find out more below and learn about some measures you can take to stay safe.
Generally, takeout is safe in 2021, especially from restaurants that continue to take all proper precautions. The less contact you have with the restaurant staff and other patrons, the safer takeout is in 2021.
To gauge the safety of takeout, determine what precautions a restaurant might be taking to create a safe environment. A little research can go a long way towards reinforcing safety for to-go orders. Seniors may want to avoid restaurants that aren't following safety guidelines no matter how good the food might be.
It's also important to gauge the risk based on your specific circumstances. For instance, if you have any existing conditions or simply don't feel comfortable going to a restaurant, consider ordering restaurant takeout via delivery, eating at home instead or relying on the dining options at your assisted living community.
Most restaurants take steps to implement precautions to keep patrons safe, especially older and more vulnerable populations. Common precautions for many restaurants include:
• Curbside service for to-go orders: Patrons can order online or via phone and wait in their vehicles for their takeout orders. The restaurant brings the order to the vehicle and staff members who do so may wear gloves and masks. This minimizes the contact between staff and patrons. Curbside takeout is ideal for seniors looking to eat out during the pandemic while also keeping themselves safe.
• Extra sanitization: Restaurants have put in place extra protocols to wipe down surfaces, engage in more handwashing and sanitize more often to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This has also helped to minimize the spread of other germs and bacteria. Many restaurants have also implemented deep cleaning measures, sometimes multiple times a day depending on the setup of the space.
• Outside seating: For those restaurants that are allowing on-site dining, outside seating is preferable for many. This has created a safer environment, especially if patrons continue to follow guidelines on social distancing.
• Reduced capacity: Reduced capacity is another common measure for restaurants implementing safety standards for patrons. This ensures that even if you do have to go into the restaurant to get your food, there won't be a crush of people inside. Reduced capacity mitigates risk while also allowing restaurants to continue operating.
• Six-foot line markers: Restaurants have placed six-foot markers in place for those patrons waiting in line for their to-go orders. This is another measure that promotes social distancing and keeps patrons as safe as possible.
Takeout protocols have also played a role in creating a safer environment for seniors getting to-go orders.
For instance, park in specially designated spots, use hand sanitizer upon interactions with staff, use your own pen instead of the one provided by the restaurant and wearing a mask if you aren't vaccinated helps keep you and others safe.
Upon returning home, wash your hands immediately.
If you do have to go inside to pick up your food, wear a mask during the entire interaction, even if you only have to wait a few minutes for them to complete the order. Maintain appropriate social distancing while waiting in line. If the restaurant is full, let the staff know you've arrived and opt to wait outside instead.
Each restaurant has its own set of protocols, so ask what they are or check the website before you order. This way you won't go into the restaurant unnecessarily if the staff will bring it to your vehicle.
Despite the safety protocols in place to make takeout safe, it is still important to practice moderation when eating out. The high levels of salt and sugar content in the food can create health issues when consuming restaurant food regularly. Eating out too often can also be a drain on your wallet.
If you do plan to order takeout more often, try to order the healthiest possible options, limiting foods that might adversely impact your health.
Restaurant takeout offers a way to break up meal monotony occasionally and allows for an enjoyable culinary experience. While the pandemic has created a need for new protocols, it is possible to have a safe takeout experience.