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Only 24 Percent of South Florida Diners are Ready to Return to In-Room Dining This Week

And when they do dine out, 69 percent say they will only dine outdoors

Today, Miami-Dade and Broward counties will start allowing restaurants to reopen at 50 percent capacity after in-room dining was shut down for two months due to the COVID-19 outbreak. And while some municipalities are delaying the reopening a bit longer — most notably City of Miami and Miami Beach, where restaurants can reopen starting May 27 — just 24 percent of readers said they plan to dine at a restaurant this week, according to a recent survey Eater Miami conducted.

As of this report, 1,233 people responded to Eater’s survey, sharing their thoughts on the reopening of South Florida’s restaurant scene. When asked when they planned to dine out again at a restaurant just 24.4 percent said the week they reopened, while 18.2 percent said only when the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and health experts say it’s safe. But 16.1 percent are waiting until there’s a significant decrease in new COVID-19 cases — a metric that Florida has yet to hit — while 12.4 percent plan to dine out in the next month.

“I don’t know when I will feel safe again. I can say that as much as I miss dining out and my favorite restaurants I feel safer supporting them by ordering to-go directly from them then sitting in a dining room full of strangers,” notes one anonymous survey respondent.

An overwhelming amount of respondents, 69.1 percent, said they’d only feel comfortable dining at a restaurant outdoors, which might be a rather warm reality as South Florida heads into its notoriously hot summer months. Only 37.4 percent said they would be comfortable to dine inside a restaurant at a table. And while restaurants are required to have tables at least 6 feet apart from each other, 42 percent of people surveyed wanted them at least 10 feet apart.

As for the act of actual ordering, most prefer giving their orders to the server directly (64.6 percent) versus ordering electronically through a phone or tablet (51.5 percent) or ahead of time (21.4 percent). And it looks like contactless app payment options could have a surge this summer, as 71.8 percent of respondents chose that as their preferred method of payment, with credit cards following behind at 64.2 percent, while only 17.4 percent would prefer to pay in cash.

Many of the required safety protocols Miami-Dade and Broward have put into place in its massive 184-page guidelines book are supported by diners, like kitchen staff wearing masks (90.5 percent agreed), food runners and servers wearing masks (88.1 percent agreed), hand sanitizer available throughout the restaurant (85 percent agreed), proper air ventilation and air flow (69.2 percent agreed), clear social distancing markings (69.1 percent agreed), and a set capacity limit (63.6 percent agreed). But 74 percent of responders were most concerned that restaurants themselves not enforcing the health guidelines, more so than the diners around them.

But that isn’t always the case, as some still have confidence in the Miami restaurant owners and operators. “I completely trust restaurant owners to make safe and educated decisions in order to be able to welcome back customers,” adds one respondent. “Just want to make sure that no employees are sick or unwell while serving customers.”

Opinions of whether glassware should be disposable were just about split, with 53.3 percent of respondents saying they shouldn’t be disposable, with many citing sustainability and environmental concerns. However, 78.3 percent of respondents thought menus should be one-time use and disposable.

“I do not plan on dining out until it is safe to eat without having to deal with any of the above,” notes one respondent. “Dining out is an experience I enjoy, but eating behind plexiglass and having my temperature checked would not make me feel comfortable. No point in paying for an uncomfortable experience.”