Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. Arts & Entertainment
  2. /
  3. Food

Do you feel comfortable dining out in Tampa Bay again? Our readers weigh in.

Local restaurants were allowed to resume dine-in service this week, but opinions are split in the time of COVID-19.

Restaurants across Tampa Bay were permitted to resume dine-in service Monday, as part of phase one of Florida’s reopening plan.

Some restrictions are in place, including indoor seating capacities limited to 25 percent and outdoor tables spaced six feet apart. But others that would further address lingering concerns over the coronavirus, such as restaurant staff being required to wear masks and gloves, are not.

So, do diners feel comfortable eating at restaurants again? Will they stick to takeout or delivery, or home cooking for now? What would make them feel comfortable enough to become regular customers again?

We asked readers on social media with a few polls earlier this week. (We should note that this isn’t scientific, and reader responses may have overlapped across the different social media platforms.)

A total of 2,098 votes came in on Facebook, with 19 percent of people saying they feel comfortable dining out and 81 percent saying they’re still doing takeout/delivery.

Our Twitter poll received 954 votes: 18.4 percent of people feel comfortable dining out, 52.9 percent are still doing takeout/delivery and 28.6 percent are not down with either.

On Instagram Stories, 180 out of 758 people said they feel comfortable dining out, while 578 of them said not yet; 367 out of 639 people said they’re sticking to takeout/delivery, and 272 of them said they’re cooking at home.

As for Facebook Stories, 83 out of 546 people feel comfortable dining out, while 463 of them are not yet; 105 out of 310 people are sticking to takeout/delivery, and 205 are cooking at home.

Here’s a roundup of their responses. Several have been edited for length and clarity. For more about pandemic restrictions, go to our coronavirus group on Facebook.

Related: Restaurants around Tampa Bay reopened Monday. Here’s what it looked like.

Sure, I’ll dine out

“As long as other people observe social distancing and stay at least six feet away from me, I wouldn’t mind dining out.” — Alex Farley, Facebook

“I’m very comfortable eating out. If the restaurant is open I’ll visit. I don’t think they should have closed in the first place.” — Michael Evans, Facebook

“Just dined out for lunch at Tequila’s in downtown Clearwater. Everyone was practicing social distancing.” — Derelynn H Revie, Facebook

“Happily dining out and supporting our restaurant owners and workers. We’ve been doing takeout the whole time with no issues.” — Tom Havens, Facebook

“Eating IN a restaurant this weekend! Can’t wait!” — Karissa Burke, Facebook

I’m cool with takeout/delivery

“I love ordering online and getting curbside pickup. It helps. I would prefer if the city mandated that people wore masks in public” — @j.koester, Instagram

“I order in on occasion. No way am I dining out around other people. One cannot eat while wearing a mask. I will watch and wait, and pray for the canaries” — Rose Mary, Facebook

“I order out all the time. I trust restaurants being responsible, but not other diners.” — @diningaroundtampa, Instagram

“I have always ordered takeout. It is nicer to eat at home than sit around at a restaurant, unless you are with a group of people” — Natalie de Sousa, Facebook

"Too soon to dine in but try to do takeout few times a week in support of restaurants" — Marcia Sullivan Houske, Facebook

“I’m not super comfortable with being served by people in masks or wearing a mask during dinner. I think it ruins the experience. I am fine with takeout for now.” — Lauren Kay Fuchsen, Facebook

Either is fine by me

“Both! Unless you are growing or raising your own food, someone is handling it somewhere.” — Ken Abbott, Facebook

“Dining out this week, takeout to the parks continues. Takeout has been fun. Things evolve. Might keep doing some of that.” — Rik Monti, Facebook

“I’m down for both! Germs just didn’t randomly spring up in December. I’ve been on this planet for 35 years. I’ve seen waves of sicknesses in my day. Don’t live your life in a bubble.” — Matthew McArthur, Facebook

Related: To open or not? Tampa Bay restaurants weigh consequences of reopening after six-week shutdown

Thanks, but I’ll handle the cooking

“Only did takeout a few times. I feel not enough precautions were taken on the food pickup. Good thing I know and like to cook.” — Janelle Chapman, Facebook

“Safer and cheaper to cook at home.” — Donna Taylor, Facebook

“If my unemployed friends and family can’t afford to eat out, then I’ll choose to cook at home! Will these restaurants be providing full-time employment with health benefits for their employees?” — Dan Marino, Facebook

“Neither, because it’s not as much fun to eat alone, so I fix something quick and easy for myself at home.” — Donna Long, Facebook

“Did takeout twice but cook at home. Don’t feel safe even with takeout. Won’t be eating out for awhile either. We pay attention to health experts, not political experts”. — Bob Langford, Facebook

“Ordering food delivery from a service, Hello Fresh, and cooking at home.” — Kellie Ridings, Facebook

“Neither, new healthy habit of cooking at home” — Pat Roberts, Facebook

I’m not doing either, for other reasons

“Please modify the poll: Do you have any money to eat out? Yes or No.” — Ayman Satari, Facebook

“I personally just don’t feel safe eating food that someone else has prepared yet.” — Jori Kennedy, Facebook

“You cannot control the actions of others. No guarantee gloves were worn, masks worn.”— Barbara Albury, Facebook

“I think they are opening too soon. I realize that small businesses need to open soon, but for me I’ll wait awhile to eat out.” — Lauraine Manter

“The people running to eat at Outback now are the same ones who have been going the wrong way in Publix aisles with no mask or gloves. So no, I don’t need to be around them in a restaurant.” — @paulrichwine, Twitter

“It’s too soon to reopen and those delivery services are bad for the business and the delivery people. I don’t trust anyone because we have no contact tracing, so I don’t even get groceries delivered. I live with a high risk person and cannot take the chance.” — Leslie Huber, Facebook

Related: I ate at a restaurant for the first time since March. We’re a long way from normal.

What would make you feel comfortable ordering out?

“Contactless delivery” — @lhustlerussell, Instagram

“Common sense sanitation practices & a focus on real health and immunity building” — @headbands_and_hightops, Instagram

“South Korea protocols” — @abelingeorgia, Instagram

“More disposable income!” — @turbopaws, Instagram

“When there is a cure and/or vaccine” — @_ruthie_gutierrez_, Instagram

“Far, far fewer positive cases” — @erina661, Instagram

Time! Just not time yet! — @jmorganiii, Instagram