Sep 11, 2020 - Economy

Study finds bad news for bar and restaurant-goers during COVID-19

Illustration of hands in medical gloves holding food delivery, a beer stein, a slice of pizza, and a fork with steak

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

People with and without coronavirus infections have pretty similar lifestyles, with one big difference: whether they have recently ate or drank in public, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: We all miss restaurants, bars and coffee shops. But going to these places carries extra risk, primarily because eating and drinking, by definition, cannot be done while wearing a mask.

Details: Study participants who tested positive for the coronavirus were about twice as likely as those who tested negative to have dined at restaurants in the two weeks before they got sick.

  • Restaurant dining included indoor, patio, and outdoor seating, and the question did not distinguish between indoor and outdoor options.
  • Coronavirus patients were also more likely to have visited a bar or coffee shop, but only when the analysis was limited to patients who had not had close contact with another known coronavirus patient.

The bottom line: There's still plenty of good reasons to assume that indoor dining is riskier than outdoor dining, and that dining in a crowded restaurant is worse than dining in one that is adhering to social distancing guidelines.

  • But taking off your mask around other people increases your vulnerability to the virus.
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