Public health experts think Covid-19 risk is lower outside, and restaurateurs want to fill tables. It’s an easy solution—except for all the hard parts.
“In a restaurant operating on the typical dining model of table service, I have not yet seen a case where outdoor seating would make up for the amount of lost indoor seating due to distancing,” Boor says. “Even the ones that come close require some pretty big assumptions about making that outdoor seating usable, like building something like wind screens and heating elements.” Few cities in the US have year-round pleasant weather in the evenings, whether that’s because of heat, humidity, cold, or rain. So restaurants trying to expand their borders are going to have to build some kind of nimbus of infrastructure to minimize the picnic-in-the-rain vibe. Of course, the more enclosed an outdoor space is, the more it is like an indoor space—with all the concomitant risks.