Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching. February 14th will be here before we know it. Traditionally, it is the 2nd busiest day of the year for restaurants; apparently, moms and Mother’s Day out ranks sweethearts.
Restaurants create the perfect prix fixe menu paired with wine and an extravagant dessert option. However this year, everything looks a bit different due to COVID-19.
As with most of this pandemic, we need a plan. Many restaurants are still running at limited capacity or are offering outdoor dining only. While others are able to provide the full service, traditional dining experience. However you feel about risk, dining out at an indoor restaurants is taking a bit of a chance.
Luckily, there are options for restaurant owners and patrons to fully enjoy the dining experience. Many restaurants have been open with a limited capacity. On January 29, 2021 Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that New York City restaurants will be able to open indoor dining at 25% capacity on Valentine’s Day.
25% may not seem like much but this is big news for NYC restaurants since they have been closed since December 14, 2020. Restaurants in other cities and states have all opened with varying degrees of occupancy to accommodate social distancing. However, the best option for eating out is just that, eating out(side).
Outdoor dining is lovely when the weather is nice, but in the middle of February, that isn’t often the case. Some establishments have turned to bubbles/domes/pods/igloo style temperature controlled enclosures. They sound amazing and look fascinating but in reality, they are simply creating indoor dining, outdoors.
Bubble dining isn’t really a problem if you are simply having dinner with your sweetheart, but it isn’t ideal for a small group from various households. They are a safer alternative to a crowded restaurant and provide protection from neighboring tables, but without cross ventilation, they are not the same as being outside.
Other than bubbles, many restaurants are coming up with creative ways to recoup some of the business from Valentine’s Day diners. Some chefs are creating meal kits that can be cooked or reheated at home. They are arranging beautiful evening packages that include wine, roses, and even personalized cards to go along with the meal.
Others are offering virtual cooking classes for couples. They lead you through making one of their signature meals at home creating a personalized, decadent fare in sweat pants if you like.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
If you do decide to head out to your favorite restaurant, chances are you will have a bit more elbow room than in the past. Social distancing is still an important part of mitigating the risk of this pandemic. Tables should be spread out so you won’t have to hear the couple at the next table’s conversation.
The restaurant staff should also be taking safety precautions and wearing their PPE. According to Restaurant Dive, “64% of diners say that seeing staff taking safety precautions and wearing personal protective equipment are the most important factors as restaurants resume on-premise service”.
For anyone planning on venturing out on the romantic holiday, be safe. Check the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) before heading out.
If you’d like to include an added layer of protection, consider a face shield. According to an experiment conducted by medRxiv The Preprint Server for Health Science, “face shield should be included as part of strategies to safely and significantly reduce transmission in the community setting, in addition to masks”.
Whether your are planning on delivery or heading out for a night on the town, it is important to know what you are getting into. Check each establishments’ website for information on their safety protocols. Be sure to make a reservation and take appropriate precautions. And, don’t forget the chocolate.
Happy Valentine’s Day!