Even though we enjoy cooking at home, we all missed having lunch or a quick coffee with friends at our favorite restaurants. Despite many businesses opening their doors recently, and restaurants firing up their grillers, things are not exactly back to normal, even though we wish they were. So, while it’s super exciting to visit your favorite local watering hole again, keep the following precautions in mind.

1. Wear a mask

Seeing people walking around with a mask is no longer strange, and most adhere to this important precaution. But sadly, there are many who still feel they don’t need to wear a mask. If you intend to visit a restaurant, please wear a mask. It is indeed true that a mask is not 100% “corona-proof”, but it can reduce transmission by up to 85%! Wear a mask when entering the restaurant and while you have conversations. Only remove it to eat and drink.

2. Follow the rules

No one likes to feel like they’re back in school needing to follow a long list of rules. But we’re in peculiar times, and by following the rules, you can keep yourself and your family safe from the virus. When you arrive at the restaurant, respect and follow the guidelines they have in place. If the CDC recommends a social distance of 1m, but the restaurant opts for a distance of 1.5m, don’t be that person who insists on making a scene. We’re all adapting to the new set of circumstances, so give them a break. After all, it’s their property, not yours!

3. Eat with cutlery

Even though we’ve turned into sanitizing maestros, you’ll be surprised to know how quickly your hands become dirty. We unknowingly touch so many things, which increases the risk of infection as a result of eating with our hands. Choose something from the menu that can easily be handled with utensils, and leave the messy food for the comfort of your own home.

4. Bring your own pen

If you’ve ever worked at a restaurant before, you’ll know exactly how many hands touch a pen throughout the course of a day (which relates back to how quickly our hands can become dirty). Sharing each other’s pens (and other stationery) was not a problem before the pandemic, but given our current situation, you’ll be better off signing the bill with your own pen!

5. Be mindful of hot spots

When you go to a restaurant, the bathroom is an obvious hiding place for germs. But think carefully about the not-so-obvious places – door handles, salt and pepper shakers, and chairs. These areas are touched by multiple people during the day, so make sure to sanitize your hands if you think you might have touched a germ “hot spot”. Another restaurant item to watch out for is the menu itself. Menus are not always cleaned as thoroughly as they should be, so rather check the restaurant’s menu online before you go, and have your order ready in your mind when you get there.

Life will soon be back to normal again, and then you can wine and dine with all your friends, share food, drool over the menu, and chuck away your mask. But for now, keep these rules in mind and stay safe!