What You Need to Know About Outdoor Dining During the Pandemic

When cold weather hits, some eateries add all sides to the tents, which experts say may increase the chance that coronavirus may stay in the air and possibly infect people.

How safe is outdoor dining? With many restaurants forced to move most diners outside, a variety of curbside setups have appeared. Among them are open-sided tents that allow air to circulate, diluting any virus that’s around.

But that’s not the case when an eatery adds all sides to the tents, NYU public health professor Jack Caravanos told Inside Edition.

“If you’re putting up four walls, plastic walls, low ceiling, that air is just going to linger. So any virus that’s in the air is going to stay right there and possibly infect people,” Caravanos said.

Outdoor tables without tents are an ideal set up, because there is unfettered air flow to the diners, according to Caravanos. The next best thing is a well-ventilated structure with loose panels on the sides and one side completely open.

But enclosed structures can almost completely cut off air movement, Caravanos said. Experts say the igloo-style tents popping up present similar issues.

“Remember you can’t blow air into a bottle. This is essentially a sealed room and air is not going to go into it,” Caravanos said.

“I would cut open some holes on the roof and get air circulating, get some convection currents going through," he added.