How to Easily Navigate Dining Out with Changing Safety Regulations

As local regulations rapidly change due to the pandemic, navigating dining can be challenging. In New York City, San Francisco, and New Orleans, diners will soon have to show proof of vaccination to dine inside restaurants per new city mandates. Other cities may follow suit, and many restaurants are taking it upon themselves to require vaccination of diners and staff in the meantime (see a list of individual restaurants across the United States requiring vaccination here and across Canada here).

Whether you’re trying to dine out at restaurants in your town or traveling somewhere with different requirements, here’s what you can do to stay on top of the latest and dine on.

Save your vaccination card to your phone for easy reference

Whether you’re in NYC, SF, or elsewhere, make sure you have access to your vaccination card if you have one, should you be asked to share. You can do this in a variety of ways, depending on your city, such as showing your Centers for Disease Control and Prevention original vaccination card or official vaccination record, showing a photo in your phone of your card, or using a local government system that stores your information. Be sure to confirm what’s required based on your city’s guidance.

Know what your city requires

Check your city’s official COVID page to see the latest local requirements for dining out. Here is a list of major cities that have announced COVID vaccine requirements for indoor dining and bars:

Calgary: Diners must show proof of vaccination starting Sept 20.  Proof can include the vaccine passport, a valid paper or digital vaccine record that shows your name, and photo ID.

New Orleans: Diners must show proof of one vaccine shot or a negative PCR test within 72 hours of dining beginning August 16. Proof can include an original, digital photograph, or photocopy of CDC vaccination cards (both sides); use of the LA Wallet app; or an official vaccine record issued by another state, foreign nation, or the World Health Organization.

New York City: Diners must show proof of at least one vaccine shot beginning August 16. Proof can include the original CDC vaccination card or use of the Excelsior Pass app or NYC Covid Safe app.

Montreal: Diners must show proof of vaccination starting September 1st. Proof can include the vaccine passport or an electronic proof of vaccination.

San Francisco: Diners must show proof of full vaccination beginning August 20. Proof can include the original CDC vaccination card, a photo or digital photo of the CDC vaccination card, use of California’s digital QR code verification, or documentation of vaccination from a healthcare provider.

Toronto: Diners must show proof of full vaccination starting September 22, along with photo ID. These mandatory requirements are not needed for outdoor settings.

Vancouver: Diners must show proof of vaccination starting September 13.  Proof can include a digital version of the vaccine card, or a printed paper copy of the vaccine card.

Check restaurants’ latest safety protocols on OpenTable

OpenTable’s Safety Precautions help diners understand the health and safety steps restaurants are taking in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, from offering contactless payment to providing sanitizer for diners. Launching this week, restaurants will now be able to display vaccine requirements or indoor mask mandates for diners on their OpenTable profile page. 

Use OpenTable’s direct messaging tool to communicate with restaurants

Still unsure? All you have to do is ask. Using OpenTable’s Direct Messaging, you can message a restaurant after making a reservation to learn what to expect before you dine and keep up with the latest requirements.

Continue to support restaurants

As reopening continues to ramp up and diners return to restaurants in full force, restaurants are facing new challenges. Restaurants are lacking the staff to properly serve diners, diners are not showing up for reservations — which can have devastating effects on restaurants — and workers are sharing stories of diner mistreatment.

Restaurants will need your support to meet these challenges — this time, by practicing #KindDining. At its core, #KindDining means that diners can help restaurant recovery by being patient, showing up for the reservations you make, and being nice to restaurant staffers. Watch this space for more information about what #KindDining means, the root causes behind some of the frustrations you might feel as a diner, and how diners and restaurants can work together to keep the industry we all love going strong.