Months have passed since news of the coronavirus broke worldwide. While there are many unknowns about the virus, some lessons have been learned along the way that may be useful as you try to gain some normalcy during this time. With shops and restaurants staying open amid the coronavirus pandemic, what are some ways you can venture out while minimizing your risk of exposure? Here are some tips and guidelines for shopping and dining out safely in Galveston.
DINING OUT SAFELY IN GALVESTON DURING COVID-19
What Kind of Restaurants are Safe to Visit During the Pandemic?
Regardless of precautions taken, the risk of coronavirus spreading is higher when people get together. However, when restaurants and patrons take safety measures, you can reduce the likelihood of spreading the virus.
First, look for restaurants with outdoor seating. Eating outdoors is better, because germs can fly away into the open air. Your risk of infection is higher when you eat indoors — or in any contained space — because of poor ventilation. You also want to look for restaurants that are following safety protocols like:
- Sanitizing all regularly used areas consistently.
- Testing staff every 14 days.
- Screening staff and guests before each shift.
- Making staff wear masks while working.
- Positioning tables 6 to 10 feet apart.
- Offering disposable utensils to patrons.
- Using touchless payment options when possible.
- Providing disposable menus or encouraging guests to use online menus
- Have signs posted that clearly states what is expected of patrons as well as staff.
When in doubt, call the restaurant ahead of time and ask them about their safety protocols. Dining out safely in Galveston is possible. But remember, the safest way to support restaurants is through carryout or delivery.
Outdoor Dining in Galveston, Texas
- The Spot on the Seawall with ocean views
- Katy’s Seafood House on Harborside
- Mod Coffee (outdoor seating on the Strand)
- Marais in Dickinson (great outdoor patio on the bayou)
- Three Acres Food Truck Park in Santa Fe (outdoor picnic tables)
Can COVID-19 Be Passed Through Food?
Dining out safely in Galveston not only involves how clean the restaurants are but what you do to be safe. How people behave when eating has a much bigger impact on transmission than how food is cooked. Experts recommend wearing masks when diners aren’t sitting at a table to eat or drink. Servers should cover their faces whenever possible. When taking off masks, people should keep them clean and stored in separate bags.
What Can You Do to Stay Safe While Dining Out?
- Find a table that is positioned far away from other tables.
- Keep your face mask on while waiting to be seated and while ordering.
- Follow the restaurant’s safety protocols.
- Pay using a credit or debit card.
- Practice social distancing while waiting to be seated.
- Stay away from buffets. Because of the way they are set up, you may have to stand in close proximity to others while standing in line and share serving utensils.
What About Using Public Restrooms?
Using public restrooms can increase your risk of catching the virus. Flushing toilets and hand dryers can stir up germs. When this happens in an enclosed space, you are more susceptible to catching the virus. To reduce your risk, wait until the entire restroom is empty to enter. Only use paper towel to dry your hands. And of course, wear your mask and wash your hands.
BARS DURING CORONA
Is Going to Bars Unsafe?
Compared to restaurants, yes, you are more at risk catching COVID-19 at a bar. Why? Drinking alcohol makes people less prone to following safety protocols. Bars typically are packed with drunk or tipsy people yelling, shouting, and moving around all in close quarters.
Unfortunately, the only way to prevent spreading the coronavirus is by staying home, so the safest way to support restaurants is through carryout or delivery. For those who choose to regain some semblance of normalcy by dining out in a restaurant, it’s very important for them to follow local and state guidelines for social distancing.
SHOPPING AND PACKAGES
Can Packages Be Infected with the Virus?
The World Health Organization stated it is highly unlikely to catch the virus through packages. The virus will die by the time the package arrives at someone’s home. Yes, the virus can last on surfaces for a couple of days, but there is no evidence that people can catch the virus from packaging.
Why is it Risky to Shop at a Grocery Store?
Your risk of the virus is highest when interacting with people, especially in closed spaces. Why? Because you’re exposed to their droplets or secretions when they talk, cough, sneeze, etc. So grocery stores can be risky because people interact with employees at a close distance. The key is to not carry on conversations with store workers or other patrons and use hand sanitizer after you leave the store.
Why Can’t I Use Reusable Bags When Shopping?
While most grocery stores have banned the use of reusable bags during the pandemic, there is actually little to no evidence of the virus spreading through reusable bags. As stated earlier, you should be most concerned with talking with the cashiers. But it’s always best to err on the side of caution, so we recommend complying with grocery store safety protocols during this time. Another way to play it ultra safe is by wiping down counters after unloading items from bags.
Is it Safe to Go Into Retail Stores?
Just like grocery stores, shopping in retail stores can be risky because of the interaction with store employees and other customers. Also, keep in mind that smaller retail stores have less space to practice social distancing and have poorer ventilation than larger stores. So if someone sneezes, coughs, or even just talks, their secretions or droplets have less places to go. It’s best to shop in larger stores and reduce the time you spend inside the store. Open air shopping malls are a great option as long as the stores you enter do not have many people (and hopefully the stores keep their doors open to ventilate). Choose stores where employees are wearing masks, and as always, keep your mask on as you shop and check out.
Outdoor Shopping in Galveston Area:
- Tanger Outlets in Texas City (set up as an outdoor mall)
- Shops and boutiques on the Strand