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Local restaurants increase safety amid pandemic

Posted at 9:33 PM, Jul 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-07 23:24:09-04

TULSA, Okla. — Although many people are ready to get back to normal, others are still being cautious, especially when it comes to restaurants. Just how safe is it to eat out during the pandemic?

Local restaurants took a big hit as they closed their dining rooms this spring. But now that they’re back open, they’re ready to serve guests.

“Luckily they’re still telling us that, you know, food and drink have not been a carrier," said Elliot Nelson, founder and CEO of the McNellie's Group.

Prior to COVID, restaurants had to follow strict health guidelines to keep customers safe. Now many, like Roosevelt’s on Cherry Street, have also implemented extra cleaning and safety steps.

“Everyone’s wearing masks," said Chef Peyton Lamb at Roosevelt's. "Everyone that’s running food or touching food is wearing gloves. We’ve got hand sanitizing stations set up everywhere. We’ve been doing, like, temperature checks for all the employees. Washing our hands more.”

So, what are some things you need to know before dining at a restaurant? Nelson said they ask people to wear masks until they get to their table. They’re also sanitizing anything a person could touch, which means your wait could take a bit longer.

“It’s not as easy," Nelson said. "You look at a normal table, you would have had condiments set out and everything, we can’t do that anymore.”

Nelson said they created health safety protocols that were recently approved by the Tulsa County Health Department. Those include how they treat people in a restaurant, how they sanitize, and how they treat employees who test positive or are exposed to the virus.

“The challenge for us is, if we have an employee that does test positive and then we go back through and do that contact tracing through our schedule, we send all those people home, then you're left with, do we have enough people left to run the restaurant?" Nelson said."And if the answer’s no then you just have to shut down.”

Nelson said it’s up to you if you want to dine out, but that outdoor dining has proven to be safe. They’re doing everything they can to protect customers and employees both indoors and outdoors. And they hope things go back to normal soon.

“Hopefully, you know, on the other side of this we’re all still standing and at some point you can come in and have a beer and not have a mask on and everything will be okay," Nelson said.

The Tulsa County Health Department also suggests calling ahead to ask the restaurant about safety measures before you go. And if you do feel sick, stay home.

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