After considerable institutional hemming and hawing, the CDC now recommends people wear face masks in public.
A mask should be worn whenever you cannot be more than six feet apart from people. Dr. Tania Elliot National spokesperson, American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology
According to Business Insider, it’s important to keep cloth masks clean through careful cleaning.
Cloth masks may be machine washed. Use hot water and a heavy-duty laundry detergent, such as Persil or Tide.
If a household member is sick or has a compromised immune system, consider adding a disinfectant to the wash cycle.
Dry on the highest heat cycle in an automatic dryer, or on a drying rack in direct sunlight. Store in a covered container until you need one.
Florida restaurant workers aren’t required to wear face masks, despite the advice of the CDC. How do diners feel about this? We asked.
I asked a question in the Bite into SWFL Facebook group last week.
I didn’t think much about it when I wrote it. Only that it was something, two months ago, I could never have fathomed contemplating. I posted the query and went about my Friday night. Two hours and 150-some comments later, I realized I’d hit a nerve.
The question: Do you feel comfortable eating at a restaurant where the servers don’t wear masks?
I’ll get to my personal feelings in a bit, but there wasn’t much gray area in the Bite into SWFL group’s answers. People either demanded masks or did not care.
More: How to clean, reuse or hack a coronavirus face mask
And: Fort Myers company goes from making seat belts to making face masks
In the pro-masks camp, Jeannie Bachner:
“No way, not for awhile anyway. I wear a mask every time I walk out my front door. I have about 10 and wash them w/bleach and detergent in the gentle cycle and then throw them in the dryer. I was hospitalized last summer with Influenza A and it was horrible. Don’t want to take any chances.
“And I heed the advice of those with titles of MD or DR, and the CDC. It is outrageous how political this has become. It is a non-partisan issue. We are all human beings across the globe with the same deadly virus causing untold deaths. Let’s pray, not argue. Masks and social distancing are the best things we can do right now for everyone.”
More: Professor demonstrates how to properly wear face masks
Gina Gatto-Jewell sees masks differently.
“I feel comfortable anywhere that no one wears a mask!” she wrote. “I feel uncomfortable when someone is wear(ing) a mask!”
Of the 75 comments clearly stating yes-mask or no-mask, 53 wanted restaurant workers to wear masks, while 22 felt fine without them.
As for my thoughts: I prefer my servers to wear masks.
I know masks aren’t perfect. I know they need to be complemented with thorough hand-washing and sanitizing procedures. But I have read study after study (this one from the Cleveland Clinic, this one from the New England Journal of Medicine, this one from the Mayo Clinic; I could go on) showing the effectiveness of masks — yes, even homemade cloth masks — at reducing the number of viral particle spread through the air.
Also: A running list of permanent restaurant closures around SWFL
If a server is standing over me, explaining the catch of the day or the nuances of a local beer, I would personally feel more at ease if that server donned a mask.
The couple of times I’ve been back to restaurants, I have also worn a mask. I kept it on till my drink came, set it in a zip-tog baggie until after I ate, then put it back on before walking through the patio dining areas and back to my car. I didn’t touch the face of the mask, only the ear loops. I wore the mask less to protect myself than to protect others.
Imagine the headlines: Asymptomatic restaurant critic spreads coronavirus through restaurant patio.
It’s an unlikely scenario, but that’s how my brain works.
I think it’s how restaurateurs’ brains should work, too. Florida may not be requiring masks for restaurant workers, but the CDC advocates for them as part of a comprehensive sanitation and safety protocol. As with Ms. Bachner, I’m more inclined to listen to the CDC.
That said, I have a choice.
We all do.
The 53 pro-mask Bite into SWFL commenters can walk out of restaurants where staff aren’t wearing them. They can opt for takeout instead of sit-down service. They can stay home and keep cooking. We don’t have to dine out, but if restaurants want more business, they need diners to trust them.
Right now, for whatever it’s worth, a lot of people trust masks.
Jean Le Boeuf is the pseudonym used by a local food lover who dines at restaurants anonymously and without warning, with meals paid for by The News-Press. Email the critic at [email protected] Why can’t we be friends? Follow me at facebook.com/jeanleboeufswfl or @JeanLeBoeuf on Twitter and Instagram.
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