As the summer winds down, the state of the Seattle restaurant industry is still in flux. Even though capacity restrictions were lifted at the end of June, the rapid spread of the highly contagious delta variant — combined with slowing vaccination rates — have led to a rise in COVID cases and hospitalizations. A statewide mask mandate is back in place for all Washingtonians, whether fully vaccinated or not. And more than 140 restaurants and bars in the Seattle area have taken things a step further, requiring proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test for entry.
Given the continued uncertainty of the pandemic, we recently posted a survey asking readers to weigh in on how they feel about dining out at this time. Even if COVID outbreaks in King County haven’t been as severe as in other areas of the country, it appears that most people are playing it safe.
Out of more than one thousand responses, 54 percent of survey participants said they are dining out less than they did earlier this summer, compared with about 36 percent who said they were dining out the same amount and only 10 percent who were going out more. Meanwhile, 67 percent said they were seeking out restaurants and bars that require proof of vaccination for entry, while a whopping 87.9 percent said Seattle should go all-in and institute such a requirement for all public indoor settings. It’ll come as little surprise, then, that 89 percent of respondents were okay with the latest statewide mask mandate, and 87 percent said they felt safer dining outside.
Below the results charts are some further thoughts from survey takers on how they feel about dining out at the moment. Thank you to all who participated!
We are vaccinated, but only dining outside. Covid cases exploded once indoor dining at full capacity was allowed and masks mandates were lifted. Mask mandates for indoor dining don’t really work; diners take their masks off as soon as they sit down and keep them off.
It seems Covid is something that we will have to live with and work around. There are no guarantees; adults are responsible for evaluating their own risks. Placing the onus on small business owners regarding vaccination proof, etc. is too much to ask. Any policies should be mandated as a clear and concise directive for all; at least for the short term.
We’re not dining indoors anywhere right now - it’s back to takeout only. Although I’m not sure whether Seattle should impose a mandatory vaccine requirement on restaurants and bars, I would definitely feel safer eating or drinking at a business with a vaccination requirement this fall or winter. I don’t really anticipate anything that could change my mind until the Delta variant becomes less of a concern, although getting a booster shot of vaccine might make me more comfortable dining indoors.
We will generally only eat inside if a restaurant is not busy. We are mostly comfortable if outside or in spaces that are well ventilated (big windows for example). We would not eat in a crowded, non-ventilated space. Our orders of takeout have started to increase again.
It doesn’t feel worthwhile to eat out right now. Food quality has declined along with service quality (because staffing has decreased.) I think we’re all going to have to accept higher prices at restaurants moving forward, and that’s OK. Until the shakeout of the industry is over, it just feels like it isn’t worth it to go out.
I think vaccine requirements are the single largest step we can take, and it would make indoor dining vastly safer. I think that with a vaccine mandate, once the current COVID surge subsides, we could again move away from the mask mandate.
There is a fine balance between the restrictions on service and the freedoms that a restaurant needs to operate above a “break even” point. When forced to shut down, everyone loses.
We’re currently only going to ‘proof of vaccination’ bars and restaurants. To me, it indicates their level of care and concern for both staff and customers. Everyone’s got their comfort level and that’s where I’m at right now. Realllllly looking forward to the future.
I hope they keep the outdoor dining situations on streets like some neighborhoods have converted to. It may limit parking, but it makes me more likely to dine out.
Unless everyone, and I mean everyone, takes this seriously — that is, GETS VACCINATED and WEARS a mask in all public settings --- we will be in this escalating disaster well into next year. There are no excuses, and we all owe it to the collective good to get this behind us. We can do it. The question is, is there the collective will??