Is It Safe to Go Out to Eat in Kenya?
Kenya has managed to keep the Covid-19 virus largely under control and people are starting to get itchy to resume their pre-Coronavirus lives. So restaurants are starting to re-open around Kenya but should you go? Just because you can eat out again, does not mean that you should.
Restaurants are navigating a situation that is new to them and to the rest of the world. New guidance from the government for restaurant operators ensures restaurants get re-licensed and follow stringent rules including testing for staff so that is reassuring.
But there is no scientific study on the best ways for restaurants to re-open following a Covid-19 outbreak. Doctors and public health experts do however have some suggestions for handling the risks of dining out:
Is your community a hot spot?
Restaurants re-opening is a public-policy decision, but going out to eat is a personal one. You should know whether the restaurant you want to visit is in a viral hotspot. If it is, you can assume that the risk for transmission in public places is higher than in non-viral hotpots and this should influence your decision.
What is your personal risk?
Anyone who has symptoms of Covid-19 or who has recently come into contact with someone who has had the virus should stay home.
Anyone who falls into a high-risk category such as older people (those over 65) and anyone with an underlying health condition (diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, other) should be especially cautious about going out to restaurants.
Ask questions before you go
Check on the restaurant’s website or social media pages what they are doing to keep you safe. Or call the restaurant and ask a staff member. You want to hear that they are taking the precautions seriously, including social distancing clients, waiters wearing masks, staff washing hands and sanitizing, regular sanitizing of surfaces, etc.
Look around when you arrive
A quick look around will tell you a lot about how well the management has responded to the pandemic. Are the tables far apart? Is the restaurant allowing staff or customers to gather in clusters?
Consider going to a restaurant with outdoor seating
The virus spreads most easily indoors. This was demonstrated through a study in which a woman seems to have transmitted Covid 19 to nine other people who were eating in the same room of a restaurant in China. The risk of infection is lower outdoors and in well-ventilated areas.
Diners should arrive with face coverings, remove them temporarily to eat or drink, and put them on again before talking. We now know that droplets produced by normal conversation could remain in the air for as long as 14 minutes.
Be aware of shared surfaces
Be careful about surfaces that other people may have touched: tabletops, silverware, menus, and condiments for example.
If you do touch common surfaces, wash or sanitize your hands and don’t touch your face. Carry your own to the restaurant for this purpose as restaurants likely won’t have sanitizer on every table.
Of course, be sure you wash your hands before you touch your food.
Chill out but don’t stay long
You finally get to relax and enjoy your meal. But don’t stick around longer than necessary; the longer you are out and about, the more people you will come into contact with and the more likely you are to be exposed.
We are keeping a running list of restaurants that have re-opened in Nairobi for dine-in services. You can find it HERE