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People Are Debating The Usefulness Of Restaurants Having Bubbles For Diners

We've all had to adapt to a new way of living in 2020 thanks to the rampaging COVID-19 pandemic, from re-learning to wash our hands and doing it more often to learning tech solutions to work from home to wearing masks in public places where we can't keep a safe distance from others. And those are just the easy things we've had to do.

Businesses have been forced to make changes as well to find ways to encourage customers to do all they can to keep the virus from spreading while still being able to operate. In some cases, that's meant installing things like large plexiglass shields at the point of sale, or putting debit machines on extended poles to maintain distance.

It's all undoubtedly weird, but for the most part, it makes sense. The idea is to create distance and barriers to keep the disease from spreading. But the application hasn't been exactly uniform and it's causing some confusion.

Restaurants, of course, are among the businesses most heavily affected by the pandemic.

Dining out is, by its very nature, an intimate experience and packing customers in and turning over tables is how restaurants are able to make money. To keep the ovens hot and the lights on, restaurants have had to figure out new ways to serve their customers, from switching to all-take-out to taking over parking spaces and sidewalks where the open air poses less of a threat than enclosed, poorly ventilated areas.

Fresh air dining can be a great experience — who doesn't love a good lunch on the patio on a sunny summer day — but the weather doesn't always cooperate so many eateries have tried to adapt to that as well, and the solution is causing some confusion.

By now, you've probably seen one of the little plastic bubbles for diners out on a sidewalk.

Who knows, maybe you've even had a meal in one. But those bubbles — designed to keep the elements at bay so diners can eat in peace — have sparked a debate.

As one Twitter user noted in a tweet, those bubbles aren't ventilated like the open air so they're kind of re-creating the indoor dining experience that helps the disease spread.

"If you're inside a nearly airtight bubble, aren't you defeating the purpose of "outdoors" & sitting in a virus-laden micro-atmosphere?" she asked.

Grappling with the concept isn't easy.

As one Twitter user suggested in reply, the bubbles might at least protect diners from other groups spreading disease around a restaurant.

"I think the idea, with small 'bubbles' like this is that you eat with your family or your very small group of friends that are in your existing 'covid bubble' so you aren't exposed/exposing yourselves to the other diners," they wrote. "Still risky for restaurant staff, however."

Others suggested that the point was not so much preventing the spread of disease.

It was just for show, they suggested.

"This is what you call 'sanitation theater,'" one user wrote. "It doesn't serve a point other than to make people think that they're doing a thing. It's action for the sake of action, not for any actual cause."

For many, the bubble structures weren't as concerning as larger dining areas being erected.

"The bubbles don't bother me, actually - assuming that you are sitting inside one with the other members of your dining party, and (big if) they can aired out or sanitized between seatings," one user wrote. "What worries me more are large enclosed tents for 'outdoor' dining."

"I've been in tents with open sides. It's only if they're entirely enclosed that worry me," another user added.

The trick for many restaurants is that the bubbles do serve a purpose for them.

As one Twitter user wrote, restaurants are up against a wall in the pandemic and just looking for a way to stay in business. "This is a small, local business just trying to do the right thing. Hats off to them," they wrote.

"As things get very cold or rainy, and full indoors isn't an option, it gives restaurants a fighting chance. Takeout isn't enough," another person wrote.

But if diners don't feel safe, they're not going to use those bubbles.

And many in the thread indicated they weren't swayed by them.

"I've been thinking the same every time I see something like that," one person wrote. "Haven’t been at a restaurant since March 1. Take-out works fine for me."

"Yeah these are a hard no from me," another person wrote. "Even if you're in one only with your safe family bubble, what about the poor servers having to walk into your enclosed air space? Nope. Makes no sense."

The whole thing is quite confusing for a lot of people, not just the original poster.

Facebook | Arellano Junior

It's officially been meme-ified, so you know that it's a whole "thing."

And as one person wrote, in Connecticut, those little bubbles and greenhouses restaurants have been relying upon aren't allowed anymore. "Restaurant owners had already bought those bubbles and expensive glass mini- greenhouses," they wrote. "I don’t blame them for being furious but I wouldn’t go near the things. And the servers still have go in and out."

What do you think? Are you on board with restaurants having little bubbles for diners to eat in? Would you eat in one personally? Are you confused by it all as well? Let us know in the comments!