People who dine at restaurants are twice as likely to catch coronavirus, US study finds

Adults who tested positive for the coronavirus were about twice as likely to have dined at a restaurant within a two-week period prior to becoming sick, according to a US study.

“Masks cannot be effectively worn while eating and drinking, whereas shopping and numerous other indoor activities do not preclude mask use,” researchers said in the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

“Eating and drinking on-site at locations that offer such options might be important risk factors associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection,” they added.

The study looked at 314 adults who had showed symptoms of COVID-19 and had sought testing at one of 11 facilities across 10 states in July. Of the participants, 154 tested positive for COVID-19, while 160 tested negative and served as a control group.

Participants were asked questions such as how often they had worn face coverings in public and where they had gone two weeks prior to having shown symptoms.

Seventy-one percent of people who tested positive said they had always worn face coverings in public, compared with 74% of the control group.

The study found that both positive and negative cases reported going to gyms, hair salons, shops and in-home group gatherings at about the same rate. But the positive cases were about twice as likely to report dining out at restaurants within the 14-day period before feeling sick.

Though the study has limitations, it echoes concerns over safety in bars and restaurants during the pandemic.