We know it’s cold. But if there are walls and a roof, you’re not outdoor dining

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Think of the virus like cigarette smoke. If where you’re eating would fill up with secondhand smoke if someone at the next table was smoking, then it’s filling up with potentially infected droplets. Restaurants across the country have moved their seating outside to allow for outdoor dining, but not all outdoor dining structures are equal when it comes to COVID-19 safety. In an attempt to keep outdoor dining feasible throughout the winter, some eateries have outfitted their curbside dining settings with walls—and even roofs —making them more indoors than outdoors, and increasing the risk of spreading COVID-19. Read Full Story

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Indoor vs. outdoor dining in the COVID era: What restaurant patrons say they’re comfortable with

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A new survey of U.S. adults found that 25% will not feel comfortable dining until a vaccine becomes available. New Jersey just became the latest state to allow bars and restaurants to reopen their indoor dining sections, but that doesn’t mean patrons will actually show up. As fall approaches, the weather gets cooler, and states face potential new outbreaks in their fight against COVID-19, a big question for restaurant owners is whether diners will feel safe enough to venture indoors for a bit to eat. Read Full Story

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The pandemic pushed cities to take back their streets from cars. Will they keep them in 2021?

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Across the world, as COVID-19 reshaped people’s routines, cities quickly converted streets to bike lanes, pedestrian areas, and places for outdoor dining. As the pandemic ends, it will require a lot of political will to prevent the status quo from returning. Until recently, the Rue de Rivoli, a major street that cuts across the center of Paris, was filled with cars. But when the pandemic forced the city to shut down in the spring, the majority of the road was turned over to people on bikes. On some days, as many as 20,000 cyclists use the street. But as the end of the pandemic draws closer, the change is going to become permanent. Read Full Story

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How well does plexiglass defend against COVID-19? VP debate shields raise questions

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Since the coronavirus pandemic swept across the country, it’s become ubiquitous. Does it work? Plexiglass is the acrylic plastic material forming the transparent barriers that have become ubiquitous in the age of the coronavirus. Since the pandemic swept across the country in March, this material has emerged as a silent, see-through hero—recruited in pharmacies, at grocery store checkout counters and drive-through windows, and between tables for outdoor dining. Read Full Story

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Propane heaters are the new toilet paper

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Restaurants are “winterizing” to accommodate outdoor dining in the chilly months. And some items they need are in high demand—and seeing surging prices. In March, as people responded to COVID-19 lockdowns by stocking up for the cooped-up quarantine period ahead, they encountered shortages of hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and, of course, toilet paper. In many cases, the prices of these goods skyrocketed. In one well-documented case , two Tennessee brothers stockpiled 17,700 bottles of sanitizer, selling some of them for up to $80 on Amazon. Read Full Story

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These adaptable pods could make you love outdoor dining year-round

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As Chicago-based architects and designers, we’re well aware that outdoor dining won’t be feasible for large swaths of the U.S. come winter. So we came up with a simple design solution. In cities all over the country, streets and sidewalks have become outdoor dining rooms, providing a welcome break from the realities of quarantine. But what happens to restaurants when the seasons change to fall and winter? In many areas of the country—including Chicago, where our newest architecture studio is based—September and October will usher in colder temperatures. While heaters can extend the season, outdoor dining from December to April would be ill-advised. Read Full Story

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How to deal with loneliness and isolation over the holidays

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This is normally a time of year to gather, reflect, and celebrate. But the advice to keep ourselves, our families, and our communities safe is to stay home. Here’s how to balance the feelings of guilt and depression that brings up. It has been nine months now since the country, mostly, shut down due to COVID-19. In that time maybe you’ve had socially distanced walks with friends, dined outdoors over the summer, and probably spent way too much time on Zoom. But, despite our best efforts, it’s fair to say that 2020 has been a year of isolation for the vast majority of people. Read Full Story

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France is going to ban outdoor heating at restaurants

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Bring a blanket, because the heaters are an “ecological aberration.” Outdoor dining has been popular in France since long before the COVID-19 pandemic, but next year, it may be a bit more difficult to do when the weather turns less-than-ideal. The French government committed to banning outdoor heaters at restaurants and bars as part of a package of measures meant to make the country more environmentally friendly. Read Full Story

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Architects develop a COVID-19 screening booth for no-touch testing

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The architecture studio SITU has developed phone booths for COVID-19 testing, based on a model used successfully in South Korea. Testing for COVID-19 remains one of the biggest challenges in the United States. To meet demand, many cities have established drive-through testing; others, like New York City, have pop-up tents . But no matter how you get tested, you still have to interact with a medical professional, which puts the worker at risk (and you, if you’re not actually sick). The architects at SITU, a New York firm that has worked on everything from urban solar panels to human rights violations , are developing a solution: outdoor screening centers that let you get a COVID-19 test, without having to come into direct contact with anyone else. Read Full Story

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