COVID-19 is already affecting the restaurant industry. Local restaurants are stepping up disinfecting common areas.
In Las Vegas, buffets are shutting down.
The state health department says you are not taking any additional risks just by eating out, unless of course, you are going to a crowded restaurant.
MGM Resorts announced that in light of COVID-19 concerns, it will temporarily close its buffets at Bellagio, MGM Grand, and other hotel properties.
The Hawaii Department of Health says buffets on their own aren’t the problem, but the crowds they attract. So if you’re elderly or have underlying health issues, avoid any place that’s crowded.
“Such as a banquet, a convention, or even a very very crowded restaurant, you might want to think twice if you’re of the high risk group,” said Peter Oshiro from DOH Food Safety Branch.
He adds that germs can spread from ladles and tongs that are handled by guests while serving themselves. So wash your hands after handling those.
“So if you go through a buffet line, grabbing all these ladles that everybody else has touched prior to you, prior to you sitting down and eating your meal, make sure at that point, you wash your hands one more time and sanitize if you can, and then commence eating,” said Oshiro.
He says that goes a long way in preventing a virus infection as well as food-borne illnesses. He says it should be a general rule when eating at any type of restaurant. When you order your food, those menus have been touched by others, so it’s best to just wash your hands right before eating.
The health department is not requiring restaurants to do any additional cleaning to prevent COVID-19. But the Hawaii Restaurant Association says eateries are stepping up efforts to clean common areas and surfaces, including menus. And because of customer concerns, takeout is also becoming more popular.
“Takeout would be the best situation because there’s very minimal contact with other people. You just stay in your car and do a drive through, that’s a good thing,” said Oshiro.
The restaurant association says it’s also taking extra precautions by telling workers not to come in if they’re feeling sick.