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There’s now even more evidence that restaurant dining sharply increases COVID spread

September 11, 2020, 8:20 PM UTC

Growing evidence indicates that proximity to other people is among the easiest ways for coronavirus to spread, especially indoors. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) adds to the thesis and points to a very specific culprit: Restaurant dining.

In a survey of more than 800 adults, the CDC found that people who had contracted COVID were twice as likely to say they had dined at a restaurant in the preceding two weeks.

The CDC survey examined behaviors ranging from shopping at a mall to visiting people in a home. But the consistent culprit, according to the study, was going to a restaurant.

“No significant differences were observed in the… analysis between case-patients and control-participants in shopping; gatherings with less than 10 persons in a home; going to an office setting; going to a salon; gatherings with more than 10 persons in a home; going to a gym; using public transportation; going to a bar/coffee shop; or attending church/religious gathering,” the agency says in its report. “However, case-patients were more likely to have reported dining at a restaurant… in the 2 weeks before illness onset than were control-participants.”

To put it more simply: The conditions required for dining at a restaurant are significantly more complex than other public activities during the COVID pandemic.

You can’t put on a mask while you’re eating; group dining will inevitably lead to conversations and, well, revelry that may sway people to throw caution to the wind. Sitting close together at a table also makes it pretty difficult to stay six feet apart.

There’s been plenty of focus on how indoor proximity can spread COVID; agencies ranging from the CDC to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has its own report, have release plenty of material about how this may exacerbate the problem.