MedPPE May Blog1

Hand-Sanitizing and Mask Etiquette for Dining Out

Canadians are advised to continue wearing masks in public even after receiving a vaccine. Doctors caution us that although the vaccines are effective at preventing us from becoming sick enough to have symptoms, it’s still not known if they prevent us from carrying the virus and spreading it to others. So for the good of all, we should continue to wear a mask in public.

In anticipation of a time when many of us are vaccinated, yet still wearing masks, and indoor dining restrictions are lifted, we should think about solutions to a few pandemic etiquette conundrums like:  “When can I remove my mask while eating indoors in a restaurant?”  “What should I do with the mask while I’m eating?”  “Is it polite to sanitize my hands at the table?” Just what is the proper etiquette for eating out in public in a pandemic?

While it may not be safe enough to re-enact the Lady and the Tramp spaghetti scene anytime soon, we will appreciate being able to dine restaurants again. MedPPE Canada has investigated what’s de rigueur for this new normal and here are the best practices for dining out in a pandemic. 


Make sure you have effective personal hand sanitizer gel and wipes with you at all times. 

When entering a restaurant, you often have to wait to be seated by a host or maître d’ and this usually requires waiting in an entry way or an outdoor line-up for safe distancing. Make sure you’re properly masked and stay as far apart from other diners as possible.

Upon being seated at your table, refrain from touching anything that you will ultimately eat or drink with, including cutlery, drinking glasses, napkin, etc. Resist the urge to head to the washroom to thoroughly wash your hands. Going to the restroom means that you have to walk there and then back through the restaurant and that presents many recontamination issues. So be sure to come prepared with a personal supply of hand sanitizer gel (a small bottle can be used discreetly) and hand wipes to wash your hands well upon being seated at your table. You should still be wearing your mask at this point.

A very effective hand sanitizer, such as MedPPE Canada’s 100 ML hand sanitizer gel is small enough to fit in your pocket or purse, but significant enough to kill 99% of the germs on your hands. You can order it from:

After cleansing with the gel, follow it up by wiping your hands with a sanitizing wipe with at least a 75% alcohol solution , such as MedPPE Canada’s Hand Sanitizing Wipes, available from: . This effective one, two punch is sufficient to confidently keep you safe while dining. You can easily repeat the process as needed, but it might be a good idea to bring along a clean zip-lock plastic bag in which to deposit used sanitizing wipes. Place the plastic bag on the floor underneath your chair.

And remember, once you’ve sanitized, never touch a menu or take something from a communal dish—even if it’s a dish of individually-wrapped hard candies. 


Keep your mask on until after you’ve spoken with your server.

Once you’ve cleansed your hands, it’s time to speak with your server; you should still be wearing your mask. Depending upon the restaurant, your server may ask if you’d like drinks or something from the bar before he or she takes your food order. If this is the case, while keeping your mask on, order your drinks, and once they arrive ask your server if you might order the food right away. 

When making your menu selections, try to be proactive with any extras you like with your meal. For example, if you’re at an Italian restaurant and you like extra olive oil, parmesan cheese and chilis with your food, you should try to request them at the same time as you’re ordering your meal in an effort to limit the number of times the server must return to the table. 

After conversing with your server and he or she has left with your food order, you can finally remove your mask by the ear straps. Try not to touch any other area of the mask you just removed. 


When you take off your mask, do NOT put it on the table. 

After you’ve safely removed your mask by the ear straps, what do you do with it? There’s a consensus amongst all health professionals who have weighed in on this question. Everyone agrees upon one thing: Do not put your used mask on the table where you will dine. It’s a danger to your health as it’s now contaminated.

When you remove your mask, don’t put it in your purse or pocket. Diners should bring along a clean luncheon-sized paper bag in which to deposit their mask. This will keep the mask stored away safely. Place the paper bag, with the mask in it, on the floor underneath your chair. After removing your mask, you might want to give your hands a quick go with another clean sanitizing wipe.

As long as the tables in the restaurant are properly socially distanced, you should be safe from other diners and free to enjoy your meal without a mask. 


Best to wear a disposable face mask when dining out, not a cloth one.

Doctors have urged us to limit the number of times we put a used mask on and off our faces to minimize contamination. The virus is transmitted via respiratory droplets—just a simple sentence from someone else close by might cause droplets to contaminate your mask. 

Many medical experts suggest carrying several new disposable masks as backups for when you need them. Just slip a new one on instead of reaching for the mask that’s already been worn and possibly contaminated. Keep several new ones in a sandwich-sized zipper bag inside your pocket or purse. That way there’s always a new and safe mask available for when you need it. Disposable masks are safe, convenient and inexpensive. Order your supply today from MedPPE Canada at

Experts at Yale University Public Health state that taking your mask off and on between eating and talking could actually be counterproductive to its proficiency. Fussing with your mask could actually increase the spread of the virus from your mask to your hands. 

Never leave your mask hanging down on your chin or dangling from one ear. Allowing the inside of the mask to be exposed to air droplets breathed out by others defeats the purpose of wearing a mask. You are better off keeping it away in the paper bag until you are finished eating.


Sometimes the server may approach the table when your mask is off.

From time to time, your server might come to your table to converse with you while your mask is off or while you’re eating or drinking. Try to ensure your server is standing the established safe six-foot distance away. Although it would be prudent to limit the number of times your server returns to your table, practically, that may not be possible if you want to order wine, coffee or dessert.

If you must speak with your server in close proximity (often restaurants are noisy making it difficult to hear), take a new disposable face mask from your supply and put it on. After you remove it, put it in the paper bag under your chair with the other used mask. When you have a supply of protective, convenient and inexpensive disposable masks you’ll always be ready when a mask is needed to keep you safe. Order today from MedPPE Canada at


When should you put your mask back on? 

When you’ve finished your meal, and after paying the bill, sanitize your hands again and place a clean, new mask over your nose and mouth. Don’t forget to dispose of the paper and plastic bags in a lined garbage bin before leaving the restaurant.