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Should you feel safe going to restaurants now that they’re reopening in Michigan?

Dr. Preeti Malani discusses risks of dining in at restaurants

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Should you feel comfortable going to dine in at restaurants now that they’re reopening in Michigan? A coronavirus (COVID-19) expert spoke to Local 4 about the risks to consider.

Local 4 spoke with U of M’s chief health officer, Dr. Preeti Malani, who is an infectious disease expert, about her thoughts on dining in.

READ: Here’s everything that has reopened across entire state of Michigan as of today

“There are a few things to think about,” Malani said. “One is just if you could eat outdoors. That’s going to be safer than indoors, and the nice weather right now -- there are some restaurants with outdoor seating.”

If you can’t eat outside, Malani said to look at how effectively the restaurant is maintaining social distancing.

“How open does it feel?” Malani said. “Does it feel like it’s too crowded? In that case, it probably is.”

She said check to see if the staff is following the recommended coronavirus safety rules.

UPDATE -- June 8, 2020: Michigan coronavirus cases up to 58,999; Death toll now at 5,673

“Some of the restaurants have come forth and put out statements saying these are all the different things we’re doing to keep you safe,” Malani said. “Certainly take a look at that. You can also look at what the other diners are doing. Obviously, if you’re eating, you can’t wear a mask yourself, but are other people around you -- including those who are serving your food and walking you to your table -- are they wearing masks?”

Malani said dining in isn’t the best idea for everyone.

“For folks who are not really comfortable eating out, curbside pickup and delivery options are going to be there, and that would be my suggestion for people -- especially those who fall under high-risk categories,” Malani said.

There was a COVID-19 outbreak in China that was traced back to a restaurant with no windows and poor ventilation. The air conditioning system was believed to have spread the virus amongst the diners, even those seated farther than six feet apart.

Malani said every activity we do will carry some level of risk. It’s up to everyone individually to decide what level of risk is acceptable.


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