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Dear Heidi: I’m about to eat in a restaurant. Where do I put my mask?

There are definitely some new etiquette rules in play to protect you and your fellow diners when eating out during the pandemic.

By now, most of us are sick and tired of cooking at home. It was fun at first — trying new recipes, baking bread, drinking wine while we cook; some of us had a little too much wine, perhaps?

But now, thanks to mask-wearing, social distancing, vaccinations, and generally smart behavior, we are slowly able to dine out again. Thank goodness. One more chicken and broccoli casserole and I’m going to lose it!

So, as we venture out to our favorite restaurants again, be mindful and stay smart; mask-up, stay socially distant, and offer only virtual hugs—for now.

If you've made a reservation at your favorite restaurant, you naturally want to know what is the proper mask etiquette? Well, wear your mask as you enter the restaurant, while you’re seated, and as your server takes your order. This is merely respectful; your server is wearing a mask.

However, when you are actively eating and drinking, take off your mask, and place it on your lap, under your napkin. Please do not place the mask you’ve been wearing to protect you and others from COVID-19 on the top of your dining table.

If you need to excuse yourself during the meal and go to the bathroom, remember to put your mask back on. Also, anytime a member of the wait staff approaches your table, stop eating or drinking and put your mask back on until they leave. Then resume your meal. At the end of your meal, put on your mask, leave your table and stay socially distant from other diners and staff as you exit the restaurant.

This sounds like a lot of rules, but if we all are respectful of each other, we can stay safe and potentially dine out more. And, please tip as much as you can. The hospitality industry has been hit very hard during the pandemic, as have many others.

Stay smart, stay safe, and as always — as you enjoy your night away from your kitchen — be kind!


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