- The COVID-19 pandemic drastically shifted how people feel about eating inside restaurants.
- A Morning Consult poll reports that 57% of Americans feel comfortable, a record high.
- The same poll shows that 68% of people are also willing to eat outdoors at restaurants.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Now that COVID-19 vaccine accessibility is at an all-time high, the majority of Americans are finally ready to eat indoors at restaurants, new polling shows.
Morning Consult has tracked public sentiments about daily life during the pandemic since March 2020. As of April 25, approximately 57% of respondents said they felt comfortable eating indoors compared to the 68% of people who said they felt safe eating outdoors at a restaurant.
But indoor dining is still one of the riskiest activities to partake in with the coronavirus still spreading. Dr. Anthony Fauci told Insider’s Aylin Woodward that after he got vaccinated, he would still be avoiding “an indoor, crowded place where people are not wearing masks,” such as bars and restaurants.
While the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed outdoor mask guidance for fully vaccinated people, the agency still recommends everyone wear masks inside restaurants and bars.
The COVID-19 pandemic devastated the restaurant industry as state and local governments set restrictions against indoor dining to prevent the airborne transmission of the virus.
A report from the National Restaurant Association said that more than 110,000 restaurants and bars closed either temporarily or for good in 2020 from the pandemic. The report also noted that restaurants brought in $240 billion less than what the National Restaurant Association predicted pre-pandemic.
As of April 28, every state allows for some form of indoor dining, but at least 30 states still have some restrictions in place regarding restaurant capacity or party numbers.
With indoor dining restrictions relaxed, many restaurants — especially chains — are struggling to hire enough workers. Some business owners claim that the congressionally granted $300 weekly boost in federal unemployment benefits has made it more difficult to employ workers, though some experts are suggesting that the problem is easily solved by simply paying the workers more.
President Joe Biden announced in early April that every American adult would be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine by April 19. Before coming into office, the president said his goal was to ensure 100 million Americans received a dose of the vaccine in his first 100 days — a goal that was surpassed on March 19.
Biden later pushed the goal to 200 million vaccine doses administered by his 100th day, April 30. According to the CDC, more than 232 million vaccine doses have been administered as of April 28, meaning 30% of the total population is fully vaccinated and 43% have received at least one dose.
Kate Taylor contributed reporting.
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