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As Full Restaurant Reopening Comes into Focus, Seattleites Still Cautious About Dining Out

A majority of respondents to a recent Eater Seattle survey said they’re still not dining inside restaurants, even if fully vaccinated

A series of empty light wood tables and blue chairs at a restaurant separated by plastic partitions
Seattle restaurants are currently open at 50 percent capacity, with other COVID-related measures in place.

As Gov. Jay Inslee announced, restaurants in the state could be at full capacity on June 30 (or even sooner) — but not everyone may be rushing to go out. With COVID cases still high in King County and vaccinations still not at the level that officials are targeting, there are risks to consider. Respondents to a recent Eater Seattle survey about indoor dining said they’re still being cautious, even if fully vaccinated.

Around 67 percent of fully vaccinated diners said they’re still not sitting inside restaurants, and 72 percent feel that Seattle should not open at fuller capacity. Outdoor dining seems to be a bit more popular, with 62 percent of fully vaccinated people saying that they currently are enjoying al fresco meals at restaurants. But about 70 percent of unvaccinated people responded “no” to the question of whether they were going out to eat either inside or outside.

In terms of when people might finally feel comfortable going out to eat, about 48 percent of respondents said they would do so when COVID cases declined to a significantly lower level, 23 percent said that it would depend on more people getting vaccinated, about 22 percent said that the turning point would only come with “herd immunity,” and the small remainder said that they may never feel safe dining out again.

Thank you to all who responded to the survey. Below are some expanded thoughts that readers submitted on the subject of indoor and outdoor dining.

Indoor dining is clearly the most risky thing we can do. Every time we open it more, cases rise. We’re so close to the end- one more month totally closed could save us 6 months of only being partially open.

As long as the workers are fully vaccinated, I say let’s open up! We’ve done this for a year, we’ve all followed the rules, it’s time. I do hope Seattle keeps all the outdoor patios, that has been awesome!

I still prefer outdoor dining whenever possible. If outdoor seating is not available, I do not mind dining indoors if precautions are taken — spaced out tables, open windows, etc. I would not be comfortable dining indoors at full or near-full capacity at this point.

Zero interest in eating out until the pandemic is over and everyone can do so safely, with staff also kept safe, no masks required.

These businesses need to stay afloat. COVID might never go away. I was extremely cautious early on during covid and now I believe that it is the worst decision to rollback phases. Makes me rethink my support of Inslee. I’m fully vaccinated and want to dine out as much as I can to support these businesses.

I may not know all the facts, but it appears to me that places following the rules (90%+?) are being punished for those that are not.

I appreciate the need and desire to reopen things but I think it encourages a sort of absentmindedness around caution for a virus that’s killing people, things aren’t normal and it’s dangerous to pretend they are

The industry was in the middle of a contraction/correction pre-COVID. Society needs less service and more production.

I’m fully vaccinated. While I eat out occasionally it is important to me that the restaurant isn’t crowded. Even 50% capacity is too much for me. I purposely seek out times that restaurants won’t be crowded, such as just after the lunch rush and before the dinner rush. I would not be willing to go to a place at capacity. That will take much lower infection rates and higher vaccination rates for me to do that.

I would feel more comfortable knowing the employees were vaccinated and in return allowing restaurants to require proof of vaccine to dine inside.