The Future of Outdoor Dining After the Pandemic

Many businesses have struggled to stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic. Restaurants have been hit especially hard, and no wonder. One of the primary reasons that restaurants exist is to allow people to gather together in close quarters. Unfortunately, that is exactly the type of environment in which pathogens such as the novel coronavirus thrive and infect new hosts. 

Over the past year of the pandemic, municipalities have been trying to strike a balance between protecting the public and supporting local businesses such as restaurants. One solution that many have come up with is outdoor dining. This has allowed many establishments to reopen and recoup some of their losses. However, it has also posed challenges in relation to traffic safety. With effective vaccines bringing an end to the pandemic in sight, will cities allow restaurants to maintain outdoor dining? If so, what can be done to protect patrons dining al fresco from traffic and related hazards?

Why Is Outdoor Dining Safer During the Pandemic?

Most people contract COVID-19 from exposure to respiratory droplets containing the novel coronavirus. An infected person expels these droplets when breathing or talking. A person can be contagious for at least several days prior to showing symptoms, meaning that the virus can spread before the person realizes that he or she is sick. 

Usually, infection occurs due to close contact with an infected person, which is why the Centers for Disease Control have recommended social distancing of at least six feet and masks to prevent the droplets from getting into the air. More rarely, infection takes place due to airborne transmission inside inadequately ventilated enclosed spaces. Outdoor dining is considered to pose a medium risk because air currents outside provide natural ventilation, although exposure at close proximity can still take place. 

Is Outdoor Dining Here To Stay?

Several cities have provided support to restaurants to set up outdoor dining during the pandemic so they could stay in operation. This support has sometimes involved closing off streets to traffic to allow socially distanced seating areas. Due to the success of the experiment, multiple cities are considering making outdoor dining permanent, with New York being among the first to approve a plan to do so. 

How Can Restaurants and Cities Keep Patrons Secure?

If cities decide to continue to allow outdoor dining, it will mean permanent adjustments. Some may choose to close off city streets for good, which is where bollards from Delta Scientific may prove useful. Bollards are unobtrusive barriers that extend approximately three feet from the pavement, yet they are strong enough to stop a 15,000-pound truck traveling 50 miles an hour from colliding with outdoor dining areas. We offer shallow-foundation bollards that can be installed without disturbing existing infrastructure beneath the street, and if you’re worried about them ruining the restaurant’s ambiance, some can be customized with different colors and styles to match the decor. 

It would be wrong to downplay the terrible toll that the pandemic has exacted in the United States and around the world. Nevertheless, in rising to meet its challenges, businesses and communities alike have discovered new opportunities for growth and development. Our bollards can help you take advantage of those opportunities by prioritizing security for outdoor dining patrons.