Post #875: Preparing for a hard winter, 6: Restaurants

Source:  This one is in Denver.  Google “outdoor dining igloo” to see numerous other examples.



I’ve addressed the issue of outdoor restaurant seating on several occasions, most recently in Post #830.   In that last post, I noted that Fairfax County was considering changing its regulations to allow fully-enclosed and heated tents to count as outdoor restaurant seating. Continue reading Post #875: Preparing for a hard winter, 6: Restaurants

Post #830: Outdoor seating?

Yesterday, in Post #829, I analyzed the impact that heating outdoor dining areas areas might have on risk of COVID-19 transmission.  My conclusion was that it wouldn’t make the dining area any less safe.  And that it would improve the public health if it would keep people from dining in enclosed indoor spaces, because that’s where the real risk of transmission occurs.  The unrestricted air flow of outdoor spaces makes them much safer than equivalent indoor spaces.

That posting was prompted by an email exchange with a friend.  As part of that, I started my discussion by stating something that I thought was obvious:

Let me assume that to qualify as "outdoor", they can't roll down the sides of their tents. So that "outdoor" is synonymous with no walls. (For sure, they should not be allow to roll those tent sides down, because that defeats the whole purpose. But you never know what the lawyers are going to think of next.)

And so, what should arrive in my inbox today, from that same friend, but a link to this article that came out today in the Patch.  The gist of that is that, yes indeed, Fairfax County is considering allowing restaurants to enclose their tents, and still call it outdoor dining. Continue reading Post #830: Outdoor seating?

Post #829: COVID-19 cases, weather, and heated outdoor restaurant seating.

Source:  Calculations from NOAA temperature data for Reagan National Airport, COVID-19 case counts from the Virginia Department of Health.

This post take the place of my normal posting on trends in new COVID-19 cases in Virginia.  It really an opportunity to gather together a few bits of information about heat, humidity, and transmission rates of COVID-19.

The quick upshot is that the environment that maximizes your risk of transmission of COVID-19 is cold, dry, stagnant air.  In short, for avoiding COVID-19, the warmer, the wetter, and the windier the better.

But what about using heaters to extend the outdoor dining season?  Electric heaters will reduce the relative humidity of the air.  Doesn’t that raise the risk of COVID-19 transmission. 

My answer is no.  I’m almost sure that extending the outdoor dining season with heaters provides a net benefit in suppressing spread of COVID-19.  The “almost” there isn’t due to the behavior of the virus, but to the behavior of diners.

Details follow.  If your sole interest is in outdoor restaurant dining, skip to the end.

Continue reading Post #829: COVID-19 cases, weather, and heated outdoor restaurant seating.