Dining at a Distance

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As proven by The Sun, the UK’s most cutting-edge source of news, ice-cream does indeed melt after a half an hour in the sun, much to the shock and horror of citizens nationwide. Needless to say, it has been very hot during the past few weeks across the UK. To alleviate us during this summer heat, a friend and I decided to treat ourselves to ice cream. In my hastened enthusiasm to eat this short-lived snack, I forgot I had my mask on. The result was messy.

Simple activities like going out to eat are now met with difficulty. You see the signs everywhere, wear your mask, social distance, stand 2 metres apart. Many including myself would rather wear a mask or stay at home if they can instead of the risk of spreading the virus, as such dining out has not been in the forefront of many people’s minds. What once was a relaxing affair is now teemed with the anxiety of contracting a potentially fatal illness.

Dining out has now become a rarefied privilege missed by many.

The government seems to have forgotten this concern, however. With the ‘Eat out to help out’ scheme introduced in August in attempt to revive the economy, it was used 10.5 million times within its first week. But apart from its pithiness and mouth-watering discounts, the campaign has a few practical issues, including the simple fact that it is still not 100% safe outside. Indeed, we’re far from a post-Covid world as infection rates are starting to increase once more, potentially bracing a second wave, as well as entry into the worst recession ever faced according to records.

Dining out has now become a rarefied privilege missed by many but one that I was fortunate enough to partake in recently. I’m here to tell you what social distanced dining is really like and try to give an objective opinion (which in itself is an oxymoron, I know).

After being in our lockdown bubbles, it was surreal to say the least when witnessing closure after closure as the virus decimated businesses across a city which once hailed endless queues of customers. From larger chains like Leon to, more heartbreakingly, smaller bistros, these were indeed hard times and we were in the thick of it.

I went to two eateries which were fortunately still running, the first of which was a bubble tea shop. One of my friends recommended Yunique Tea after watching a TikTok publicising how the shop had fallen on hard times due to the virus. We both ordered a brown sugar milk tea with tapioca pearls (no ice, of course) to take away. The proprietor greeted us with warmth as he offered us free snacks to accompany our chilled bobas. A familiar drink sorely missed like distant friends.

We next went to London’s very own Ping Pong for dim sum. Whilst the food wasn’t mind blowing, the prices certainly were with our bill slashed in half due to the campaign – thank you Rishi Sunak. The dining experience was comfortable enough, being placed on alternate tables (in what was already an emptied restaurant). Yet, there was an unease that came from sitting inside an enclosed space so soon after its reopening for an extended period of time. The whole set-up felt slightly verboten.

This whole experience of dining out was a sobering reminder to wear baggy trousers if you plan on eating large amounts of food, but more importantly, that recovering from this pandemic requires a multi-pronged approach. Whilst waking up to notifications of a recession from the BBC News app epitomises the idea of getting up on the wrong side of the bed, it serves as a reminder to try to help the economy recover in ways that we can. But, and this is the biggest concern if any, let’s not forget about the Covid-sized elephant in the room. We are still in the midst of a global pandemic (despite what anti-maskers may think) and it is the recovery of the general population, particularly those in higher risk categories, that should be at the forefront.

So, if you do decide to dine out, limit your risk in any way you can. With the possibility of sounding like an overplayed precautionary measure: social distance, sanitize, and sport a mask.

Image: via Pixabay

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