This Is What You Should Do With Your Mask While Eating, Dr. Fauci Says

Zachary Mack
·3 mins read

When it comes to controlling the spread of coronavirus, bars and restaurants pose a uniquely difficult challenge. Even though you can space tables out six feet apart, customers still have to take down their masks to eat or drink. This issue has been partly solved by moving diners outdoors to lower the risk, but as winter approaches and with indoor dining returning to many states, the best way to cautiously run restaurants is quickly becoming a heated debate. But according to Anthony Fauci, MD, you should still wear a mask while eating out. Read on to find out exactly how you can do it safely, and for more tips, This One Item in Your Junk Drawer Could Be the Answer to Stopping COVID.

During a recent interview with Trevor Noah on The Daily Show, Fauci said it's not all that hard to wear your mask most of the time you're at the table. "I think because there's enough movement of people that are usually within six feet that you probably should [wear a mask]," he explained. "What I do is I put it around my neck, then I can eat or drink, and then I can put it back up when you're waiting for the waiter."

Four young women sitting in restaurant, wearing face mask on chin.
Four young women sitting in restaurant, wearing face mask on chin.

The advice from the director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) came just a week before California Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted an image that urged citizens to "minimize the number of times you take your mask off" while dining out. But instead of answering lingering questions about exactly how someone can eat while donning PPE, the confusing images were mocked for being unclear in their message—as well as for telling diners to put their masks back on "in between bites," The New York Times reports.

Still, some detractors pointed out that the World Health Organization recommends washing your hands every time you touch your mask, especially if you touch the fabric at the front. But Fauci still had a recommendation for how to safely de-mask and re-mask quickly and easily. "You just flip it up and down," Fauci told Noah, while demonstrating how to move the mask into place by only touching the straps on either side. The key is, "you don't want to put your hand on the outside of it."

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As strange, inconvenient, and difficult as it may seem, experts say that the use of a face mask in between courses is highly advisable even in places where face coverings aren't required while seated—especially in consideration of the waitstaff who are exposed each time they approach the table.

According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, "face coverings are not required when diners are seated, but wearing a face covering as much as possible once at the table is the best way to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission for restaurant workers and dining companions." And for more from the nation's top immunologist, Dr. Fauci Just Said the 4 Words You've Been Waiting to Hear.