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Picking up food at a drive-through? Yes, you should wear a mask

Picking up food at a drive-through? Yes, you should wear a mask

Health
Young woman at drive-through with mask on.

Although you generally don’t need to wear a face mask while in your vehicle, there’s one place where it’s important to mask up: the drive-through.
Face masks should be worn to prevent the risk of spreading COVID-19 to people manning drive-through windows.
“Given the proximity between you and the drive-through attendant, wearing a face mask is important,” says Dr. Gerald Harmon, vice president of medical affairs at Tidelands Health. “Because you’ll need to exchange items and payment while at the drive-through, you’ll be closer than six feet from the attendant, so it’s best to put on your mask.”

Limiting the spread

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people wear masks or cloth face coverings in public places where social distancing – staying at least six feet from others – is difficult.
The recommendation is based on research that suggests a significant portion of individuals with COVID-19 lack symptoms, and that even those who eventually develop symptoms can transmit the virus to others before becoming symptomatic.
Masks can prevent people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.
“Face masks are one of our best lines of defense for limiting the spread of COVID-19,” Dr. Harmon says. “Masks, frequent and thorough handwashing, avoiding large groups and social distancing are our best weapons in the battle against this illness.”

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Instead of paying when you pick up your food, Dr. Harmon encourages people to pay online whenever possible to eliminate the physical transfer of cash or payment card. When picking up food, opt for contactless curbside pickup if it’s available.
If you go through the drive-through, make sure to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after picking up your food. Otherwise, follow normal food handling procedures, including washing your hands thoroughly immediately before you begin to eat.
“If you follow a few basic precautions, picking up takeout or drive-through food can be quite safe,” Dr. Harmon says. “Plus, with all the uncertainty around COVID-19, grabbing your favorite takeout can provide a comforting sense of normalcy, too.”

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