Social Graces: Where should you put your mask when dining at a restaurant?

·2 min read

Q: If you wear a mask to a restaurant, when should you take it off and where do you put it?

A: When it comes to mask etiquette at a restaurant, my personal protocol is to always err on the side of safety and to follow the current recommended mandates.

When entering and traveling through a restaurant, I prefer to wear a mask until properly seated. To prevent my mask from falling on the floor, I like to put it in my pocket or a bag, as opposed to on the tabletop. This also makes it easily accessible to resume wearing when a staff member first addresses and welcomes the table.

At that point, whether I’m the guest or the one working at the restaurant, I think it’s perfectly acceptable to discuss if you’ve been vaccinated and for all parties to establish a comfort level as to whether masks need to be worn at the table for further interactions.

— Donnie Madia, partner/restaurateur, One Off Hospitality

A: While it does depend on the rules of each restaurant, when it comes to indoor dining, typically you would enter the restaurant while wearing a mask. Only once you are fully seated with your party would you then take it off. While you are not expected to put a mask back on between courses, you should put it on if you leave the table for any reason, such as to go to the restroom or to make a phone call.

So where should you put your mask? The rule of thumb when dining is that you want to avoid putting anything on the table that is not a part of the meal, from sunglasses to a clutch handbag or wallet. With masks, there is no exception. More importantly, for sanitary reasons, never put a mask on a dining table or even on top of (or beneath) your napkin.

Instead, put your mask in your handbag, briefcase or a pocket. Some restaurants supply a thin, disposable paper bag to slip the mask into while you are not wearing it, which you would also keep in your bag or in a pocket. You can also buy reusable antimicrobial mask cases to put your mask into.

Once you have finished at the table, put your mask back on before you get up from the table or walk through any common areas.

— Myka Meier is the founder of Beaumont Etiquette and runs a virtual Online Finishing Program

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