After months of being homebound, people are only now beginning to venture out. However, although there is little or no evidence that COVID-19 can be contracted by consuming food and drink at restaurants, public health experts still advise caution.
Dr Naveen Polavarapu, consultant gastroenterologist and transplant hepatologist at Apollo Hospital, says, “Now that unlocking has begun, all of us should be extremely cautious because now is the time when maximum spread happens.”
Pointing out that unlocking is the end of lockdown, not of COVID-19, Dr. Polavarapu stresses, "For our own safety and that of our families, it is advisable to stay indoors and take necessary precautions. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, doing indoor physical exercises, having a balanced diet and staying hydrated are the key to fighting COVID.”
Re-imagined dining spaces
Some restaurants are getting creative with their spaces to encourage dining while maintaining social distance. When it comes down to it, restaurants are enclosed spaces, with people chewing, drinking, shouting, laughing. “We have exploited and explored dining in normal conditions for a long time in restaurants. It is not only high time we create a different experience, but such change also complements hygiene and safety standards,” feels Alok Kaul, general manager, Radisson Hi-Tec City. “So, we have come with the concept of Kabana, which is more of a private dining idea. Instead of dining in the open restaurant area, we have individual Kabanas which you can use,” he explains, adding, “You can choose from multi-cuisine fare and enjoy our bands, but you get to eat privately in hygienic conditions.”
Be safe rather than sorry
‘Be cautious’ is the new catch phrase. Hotels and restaurants have started running their kitchens only after incorporating several safety measures. Celebrity chef Vicky Ratnani, says, “We need to eat intelligently. We have to take precautions. Even in the USA, until the food actually comes on the table, diners at restaurants have to keep their masks on. As soon as they are done with their meals, they have to put on the masks again. The service staff wear masks all the time. I think these protocols have to be followed. At the end of the day you want to keep both your staff and your guests safe.”
Eat simple, eat smart
The public is rightly wary of dining out now. Even with all the protective protocols in place, it’s not just about keeping yourself safe, it’s about keeping your neighbours and the community healthy too, stresses Shankar Krishnamurthy, chef-turned-entrepreneur.
"To me, cooking has always been simple and straight forward. Keep it minimal, respect the ingredients, and it should enhance your sense of taste and make you happy and content. While the food on offer can be from global cuisines, during these hard times you may also like to support locally grown ingredients and work the menu options accordingly. My opinion on intelligent food choices is the sum of the above — simple clean and fresh ingredients all the way,” says the chef-turned-entrepreneur.