The Uncertain Future of Indoor Dining in Massachusetts

Gov. Charlie Baker has said restaurant dining rooms will continue serving, but that could change if coronavirus cases continue to rise

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The fate of indoor dining in Massachusetts has become a hot topic of conversation as the weather changes and outdoor dining options become more limited.

But Gov. Charlie Baker has said the dining rooms will be serving -- for now.

"At this time, the commonwealth is not planning any additional closures or restrictions," he said last week.

The New York Times recently surveyed more than 700 epidemiologists and asked them to pinpoint ways to minimize risk. The first on the list was to avoid spending time in confined spaces where anyone is unmasked -- including restaurants.

"I am much more cautious about indoor dining," said Dr. Daniel Kuritzkes of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

He said his concerns about indoor dining begin with the fact that at some point, you have to remove your mask to eat and drink.

"I think there are a number of reports that have come out showing increases in local transmission that seem to correlate with a reopening of indoor dining, but it's hard to tell the correlation," Kuritzkes said.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has said that some of the increased cases are stemming from the workplace and private gatherings.

But while a ban on indoor dining would be a last resort, he has also said it would be considered if cases keep climbing.

Meanwhile, Kuritzkes said he is not as concerned with the virus spreading from table to table as he is with who people are sitting down to eat a meal with.

"If you're going out and getting together with three or four other friends you don't live with and each is having different interactions outside of that dinner then you're bringing in all those interactions to the dinner table and that could be where the risk comes from," he said.

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