Diners are more ready to dine at restaurants than at any time since the pandemic began. But they don’t want restaurants to stop offering takeout and delivery any time soon.
That’s according to a new survey from OpenTable and the James Beard Foundation that collected the opinions of more than 21,000 diners and 300 restaurant industry workers about the future of dining.
The survey found that diners are becoming much more comfortable with the notion of eating at restaurants, both indoors and outdoors, than they were a year ago.
According to the survey, 74% said outdoor dining is a low- to somewhat low-risk activity, up from 45% last July. And 82% of diners said they wished restaurants would increase their outdoor seating areas.
Just 34% reported feeling that indoor dining is a low- to somewhat low-risk activity – a 79% increase since July.
More than half of all diners (54%) said they plan to go to a full-service restaurant in 2021 once a week or more.
Even if they’re feeling more comfortable going back to restaurants, diners still want to feel safe when they’re there, the survey found.
That means continuing personal protective equipment, distancing and cleaning protocols, something 70% of consumers said was important for them to feel safe. Just over 70% said they want contactless ordering options to continue. And 79% of those surveyed said requiring other diners to follow safety rules is the most important thing a restaurant can do to help them feel safe.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday announced that U.S. residents who are fully vaccinated can stop wearing masks or social distancing in nearly all indoor and outdoor environments.