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Seattleites Still Easing Into Dining Out, According to Eater Survey

Most respondents say they’re going out to eat, but the majority continue to take precautions, such as masking up

A table set inside a dimly lit restaurant, with rows of empty wine glasses
Washington lifted all capacity restrictions on restaurants on June 30.

After 15 months of rolling shutdowns, Washington finally lifted most COVID-related restrictions on June 30, including capacity limits on restaurants. But not all Seattleites are rushing to dine out, according to a recent Eater survey. And even those that are taking advantage of the relaxed rules seem to be easing into things, which makes sense given that the increasing spread of the delta variant continues to alarm officials.

Out of nearly 500 responses, around 55 percent of people said they were going out to dine inside restaurants at the moment, but only 24 percent said they felt completely comfortable with the experience (45 percent said they’d prefer to know that staff and other customers were fully vaccinated; and around 30 percent said they didn’t feel comfortable at all).

In terms of frequency of dining out, around 59 percent of respondents said they planned to dine out “once in awhile” this summer, compared to 30.5 percent who said they were planning on going out “once or twice a week” and only 9.9 percent who said they were planning on dine at restaurants “as often as I can.”

Despite the fact that King County officially ended its indoor mask mandate on June 29, diners are also still taking precautions on that front, with 64 percent of respondents saying they still wear face coverings at restaurants, except when eating and drinking at a table. Also, a vast majority of respondents (78.6 percent) said they preferred outdoor dining to indoor options, and they seemed generally split on whether restaurants should be checking vaccination status (52.7 percent said no).

Meanwhile, the overwhelming consensus on which pandemic-related adjustments should continue in the long term were robust takeout options (including to-go cocktails), expanded outdoor seating, and more hand sanitizers everywhere. A surprisingly popular amenity was QR codes on menus, which at least 34 percent of respondents found convenient. And, in case one is wondering about tipping these days, the vast majority of respondents still land on the standard 20 percent, with about a fifth of respondents saying they tip at least 25 percent (there’s a very slim margin that tip much more than that).

Below are some further thoughts from respondents.

My wife and I have only been dining at restaurants if there is an outdoor option (or very open air seating option). Otherwise, we are sticking to takeout.

If you are vaccinated, you should be able to now live your life normally. The end.

Make masks required in all indoor places, and require vaccination proof to enter indoor places the public goes. Yes, even private businesses and restaurants. The restaurant owners are not caring for their employees health if they are not doing the masks or vaccine proof, that’s why there are so many staffing shortages, the staff are smarter than the owners.

I feel safe and comfortable now that I’m vaccinated, but happy to follow the guidelines of each business (so will mask if requested).

I have young, unvaccinated children and cannot fully feel comfortable going out even with just vaccinated adults until they are eligible to revive their doses.

So far our take-away is that it’s just too expensive to dine out. After staying out of restaurants for so long I don’t think we’ll ever go back to our old routine of dining out at least twice a week. It’s fun to be out and about but we’ve gotten home from restaurants and wondered why we went out in the first place. The magic of sitting and waiting for food in loud places with high price tags is gone. At this point it’s special occasion only. We’ll try again in the fall after we’re back in the office. Maybe it will feel worth it then?

Let restaurants determine if they want to keep any adjustments. Should not be regulated. They will succeed or fail based on their actions. Looking forward to eating out more again.

Make it so only fully vaccinated people can dine indoors (or participate in indoor activities). Vax up and help protect others or stay home!

The government should continue to give restaurants finical support and outdoor seating should become a permanent thing.

I prefer take out options or outdoor dining only. I’m vaccinated but my kids aren’t. We won’t be dining inside anytime soon! Not until they are vaccinated AND the delta variant presence diminishes.