When there is a serious outbreak of the flu or another viral illness, health officials often recommend that people take steps to distance themselves socially. This means canceling concerts and other large group events while spending more time at home and in smaller groups. This strategy helps reduce the spread of disease, but it has the unfortunate side effect of hurting businesses, including some of your favorite small, local restaurants.
Thankfully, there are some ways you can continue to support your favorite local restaurants during a disease outbreak.
1. Buy gift certificates.
Maybe you don't really want to go out to eat right now when the outbreak is in full swing, but you will want to in a few weeks or months. At this time, you can buy a gift certificate to your favorite local restaurant. This way, the restaurant can use the income from the gift certificate right now, and you can enjoy a pre-paid meal later on. If you have friends or family members with birthdays coming up, you could also buy them gift certificates to your favorite locally-owned restaurants as gifts.
2. Go out for lunch, not dinner.
If you do wish to go out to eat, consider going out for lunch instead of dinner. Lunch crowds are typically smaller, and the fewer people there are in the space, the lower your risk of catching the contagious disease. Restaurants will typically make every effort to seat groups further apart, when possible, during an outbreak, and if you go at lunchtime when there are only a few other tables seated, your contact with other folks will be minimal.
3. Wash your hands.
Of course, the number one way to protect yourself during an outbreak is to wash your hands, and this also applies when you are going out to eat. Get up and wash your hands right before you start eating your meal. Don't touch anything on the way back from the bathroom. If you do end up touching things after washing your hands, apply a little hand sanitizer before you start eating. And make sure you choose dishes that you eat with silverware rather than with your hands.
If you go out to eat during an outbreak, you do need to be a little more cautious. However, with the right precautions, you can continue to support your local restaurants, who probably really need business from people like you at this challenging time.