Know Before You Go: How to Be a Good Customer During COVID-19
As businesses in Minneapolis begin to reopen, everyone is taking precautions against the spread of COVID-19. It can be a confusing time for consumers with so many new rules and protocols to follow. But having an idea of what to expect when you go out and support our local businesses is an important step towards helping keep you and their employees safe and healthy–and keeping our beloved local businesses open.
1. Wear a Mask
The Governor of Minnesota has mandated that everyone in the state must wear a face mask in any public indoor space. This applies to individuals over the age of five. Children under age 2 years must not wear face coverings. Children between the ages of 2 and 5 years old are not required to wear face coverings, but are encouraged to wear a face covering when in public if they can do so reliably in compliance with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance. Persons who have medical or other health conditions, disabilities or mental health, developmental, or behavioral needs that make it difficult to tolerate wearing a face covering are exempt.
At restaurants, masks are required to be worn in waiting areas, whenever you are not seated at your table eating or drinking and when in restrooms.
Pictured: Lakes and Legends Brewing Company
2. Look for Communications
If you make online bookings or reservations to visit a business, check your email to see if you have received information with detailed guidelines about proper protocol before you visit. Be on the lookout for signs on doors and around the building, as well as social distancing markers that will indicate traffic flow and what is expected of you while you are in that space. Signs may also be up to warn you about touching certain products or surfaces.
3. Keep your Distance
The CDC recommends you stay 6 feet apart from anyone not in your immediate household to prevent the spread of the virus. When visiting businesses, follow and stand on markers that will help indicate proper distancing between you and other guests. When there aren't clear markers, try to keep as much distance as possible between you and other people. This includes keeping a safe distance from the staff.
4. Stay Home if you Feel Sick
If you are exhibiting any symptoms of illness, it is probably best to stay home. Monitor your health and avoid exposure to others as much as possible. You should also stay home if anyone in your household is feeling sick or has symptoms.
5. Be on Time
To limit the amount of people in one space, as required by state mandate, many businesses are requiring reservations or selling timed tickets. Make sure you arrive at your designated time to avoid any conflicts and rescheduling issues.
6. Be Patient
COVID-19 has brought along new sets of rules and regulations for everyone to follow, including businesses and their staff. As we all learn to navigate the new ways of doing business please be patient and respectful to employees. Also understand that things may be changing constantly as we receive new information about how the pandemic is affecting us. For this reason, expect that protocols may be different than the last time you visited a business.
7. Know That Dining Out Will Be Different
The entire landscape of going out to eat at a restaurant has changed. Many of the new rules are mandated by the State of Minnesota and restaurants must obey or risk being fined.
Restaurants are now limited to allowing 50% capacity for indoor and outdoor seating and each table is only allowed to have four patrons, or six if everyone is part of the same household. Please do not come with big groups of people and expect to be seated together. Reservations will most likely be required to help keep capacity limits and enable contact tracing, should there be a need.
Respect the seating arrangement set up by the restaurant. Do not move tables closer together. These arrangements are created for your safety to enforce social distancing rules and allow space for your server to work.
Try to place your order all at one time. This eliminates the server having to go back and forth to your table and risk more exposure.
Some restaurants may require limits on the amount of time you can stay at your table. This is to give them a chance to clean and disinfect the area after you leave and welcome other patrons who also have made reservations.
8. Expect Temperature Checks
Performing temperature checks are not a required for all businesses, but doing so may help them feel confident about allowing visitors into their building. If a temperature check is asked of you before entering, remember this is just a protocol to enforce the safety for all guests and staff.
9. Try to Avoid Cash
If possible try to avoid using cash as a form of payment. Since cash can be exchanged through multiple hands and possibly carry the virus, many people are not comfortable handling it at this time. Some businesses will not accept cash payments; be sure to check before you arrive.
10. Remember, There is Only So Much the Staff Can Do
If you see other guests not following general protocols understand that the staff will try their best to alleviate the situation, but ultimately they may not be in a position to enforce every rule related to COVID-19. Trying to deescalate certain situations is probably not in their job description and can lead to certain altercations that risk their safety.
11. Tip Generously, if Possible
Even with reopening, many businesses are struggling to keep their doors open. They lost a lot of business during the stay-at-home order and current capacity limits may mean they are still having trouble. Also many of their workers lost their jobs for a few months leading up to reopening. And now staff may have reduced hours and serve less customers each day. If you are able, consider tipping a little more than usual. Every little bit helps.
12. Be Compassionate
This has been a difficult time for everyone. And as we learn to navigate it, please remember that we don't know the struggles everyone around us has been dealing with in regards to this pandemic. It is important that we respect each other and have compassion so that we can all get through this together.