BAR HARBOR — As the weather turns colder and darkness comes earlier, it is likely that fewer people will want to dine outdoors at restaurants.
But will patrons and restaurant staff be safe from the novel coronavirus if more people start eating inside?
“There is data that says that people who eat in restaurants have a higher likelihood of getting an infection,” Dr. Julian Kuffler said during Mount Desert Island Hospital’s virtual COVID-19 town hall forum last Wednesday.
“I think restaurants that want to stay open should seriously be looking at air exchange [systems], because that will markedly diminish the risk.
“If you are concerned about indoor dining, just remember that you can support your favorite restaurant with takeout. You can eat their delicious food at home until you decide they have made the precautions so that indoor dining is safe.”
Kuffler, along with Dr. J.R. Krevans and Kate Worcester, a certified physician assistant at the hospital, talked about various aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic and answered questions from callers.
Krevans said the coronavirus can be spread by touching surfaces, but that mode of transmission is extremely rare.
“So, I would not put a lot of effort there, but I would avoid things that are going to go into people’s mouths,” he said. “One extreme would be pencils. You may remember how, when people are thinking, they sometimes put the back of the pencil in their mouth. Just watch kids if you don’t believe me.”
But in nearly all cases, he said, the virus is spread through the air, as when someone coughs or sneezes.
As for the best way to protect against such transmission, Krevans said, “The biggest thing is universal masking because that both protects you and decreases contamination of the environment.
“Also, if people are wearing masks, they stick things in their mouth a lot less and don’t contaminate surfaces as much, either.”