One perennial Valentines Day favorite is going to restaurants, and some in Philadelphia were allowed to expand to 50% indoor capacity on Friday if they passed an air ventilation test.
Still, Usama Bilal, an assistant professor in the Urban Health Collaborative and the Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics at Drexel Universitys Dornsife School of Public Health, cautions people against indoor dining at all costs for their own safety and the safety of the restaurant workers.
Its a holiday where people usually go to restaurants, and we are increasing the capacity of indoor dining. The combination of those things can be very dangerous for the city, Bilal said.
Bilal worries about indoor dining because people would have to remove masks to eat and drink. And if you plan on eating outdoors in a tent or enclosed space as an alternative to eating indoors, Bilal would recommend against that too.
Those places [outdoor tents], ventilation may even be worse than indoors, Bilal said. At least some indoor spaces have ventilators, but those outdoor spaces really are in some cases worse because of the false sense of security. If you want to do outdoor dining, truly do outdoor dining, If you see walls around you, thats not outdoor.
With wintry temperatures forecast for the weekend, its unlikely people will want to eat outdoors in the way Bilal recommends, however.
If you absolutely have to meet people indoors, Bilal suggests indoor activities that do not involve taking your masks off. The CDC takes it one step further and advises that if you are hosting an indoor event, make sure to clean and disinfect frequently touched items between use, limit the number of guests, and bring in fresh air by opening windows and doors.
Since most people have not yet been vaccinated and are still susceptible to the coronavirus, celebrating indoors is still very risky.
With the vaccine or vaccination rates going up, there will be a time where well be able to do this again, Bilal said. But until then, people can avoid meeting indoors without a mask with people they dont live with. That should be a priority at this moment.
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How to celebrate and avoid the virus during this double holiday - WHYY