Dining out is one of the safe pleasures left to us these days – thank you, 2020. But finding a COVID-19 safe restaurant can create quite a few anxious moments. How can you tell if a restaurant is really and truly giving its all to provide an environment where you feel safe? 

Here’s a little secret: it’s not just about whether there’s that little ‘COVID-19 compliant’ sticker stuck to the window – the devil is in the detail. These 5 things will instantly tell you whether a restaurant is really COVID-19 safe or whether it’s a work-in-progress. Top tip – our restaurants on Bookia have all been thoroughly screened!


1. Temperature testing and hand sanitiser greet you at the door

Yes, we get it it, it’s a pain to have to stop and write down all sorts of personal info before you’re allowed into a restaurant. And admit it, who doesn’t go through a mini heart-attack in those few seconds before getting the thumbs up for your temperature? But don’t penalise a restaurant just for having its guests’ best interests at heart. Do you really want to end up spending a few hours in a location that allows in anyone with no checks in place?

Personal bugbear alert – restaurant owners that leave a solitary bottle of hand sanitiser by the door, a lonely and forgotten specimen that has been innocent of actual sanitiser for heavens know how long. 

Shoutout to all those restaurateurs who unfailingly always make sure there’s a fresh bottle available, and that no guest ends up doing the ‘sanitiser dance’, swishing their palms under a totally dead bottle for five minutes before finally giving up and walking indoors with a flounce and a huff and puff. Or maybe the last bit is just me.

Whatever – any restaurant where I know the right COVID-19 protocols are in place even before I step food inside gets my vote. 


2. You don’t bump into your neighbour as soon as you move your chair.

There’s a minimum distance prescribed by law for a restaurant to be COVID-19 compliant – basically, all tables must be a minimum of two metres away from each other. All restaurants are currently (or should be) observing this minimum, but reality is that two metres are barely enough. Chances are that you’ll get up to use the bathroom and step into your neighbour’s soup anyway. Not a good look, in COVID-19 times.

This is why restaurants who are sacrificing a couple of tables in the interest of proper, decent spacing between guests deserve all our support. Say thank you by choosing their establishment, because it takes guts and a strong social conscience to refuse an extra table or two in these times. 

It’s not just about whether there’s that little ‘COVID-19 compliant’ sticker stuck to the window – the devil is in the detail

Ramona Depares

3. The bathrooms are sparkling clean.

In fact, you can probably enjoy your starter in there (don’t). Bathrooms are virus hotspots, with everyone walking in and out in a limited space. A COVID-19 compliant restaurant is one that realises this and makes sure the space is aired and cleaned frequently. If you really want to earn super brownie points with guests who are a bit of a pain, such as myself, place some hand sanitiser by the doorway. 

Because really, washing our hands properly kind of becomes useless if we have to turn the door-knob right afterwards, right? Go on, splurge on that extra bottle of sanitiser and make your guests super-happy.

4. Masks are worn at all times and fit well.

Do I even need to include this on the list? Clearly, yes I do. I’ve lost count of the number of times in recent months I’ve waltzed into a restaurant and promptly waltzed back out after spotting one of the following disasters:

Waiting staff with their noses uncovered

Waiting staff removing their masks on their way out, but while still firmly indoors

Waiting staff wearing one of those ridiculous half-visor affairs that achieve nothing.

For starters, all this is illegal. ‘Masks on’ is a maxim that applies to everyone, everywhere, with very few (and clearly listed) exceptions. No, you’re not being a rebel, or cute, by removing your mask ‘because you need to speak to patrons’. And if you do that, we will call you on it, and then leave.


5. Guests are politely made to follow COVID-19 protocols.

At a time when many restaurants are struggling, I can understand why some restaurateurs may hesitate to confront a guest who is clearly flouting COVID-19 rules. I’ve seen it all, from those who rush off to the bathroom with no mask, to others who breeze in without using sanitiser, to others still who decide to hover on top of someone else’s table while waiting. 

A good restaurateur will politely tell you to stop that rubbish, because endangering other guests is just not on. 

Since I’m usually hoping to relax at my restaurant of choice, rather than pick fights with selfish customers, I do appreciate when I don’t have to deal with that sort of thing myself. And it does make it more likely for me to return to that restaurant.

Oh yeah, as for those restaurants that will allow guests to flout regulations with impunity – just a heads-up that word travels fast, and the majority of customers nowadays are very well-aware of just how seriously a restaurant is taking its COVID-19 protocols. 

Ramona Depares

Ramona Depares

Journalist, dreamer, but most of all foodie & music lover, Ramona Depares is a published author who runs her own lifestyle website at ramonadepares.com. She likes good wine, polka dots, silly conversations about croissants and dogs with floppy ears. When she’s not pursuing all three (usually at the same time), she’s probably reading. Or just staring happily at books and the perfect way the pages fall open. https://www.ramonadepares.com/

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