It goes without saying that when you are not seated at your table at a restaurant, your mask most definitely needs to be on. This includes when you are waiting for the bathroom, popping up to grab a napkin, or greeting someone who just joined your party. Apart from this hard-and-fast rule, many restaurants have their own requirements that they post for what is expected of you when you’re at the table — and if they do, follow these. If nothing is posted online or at the door or window of the restaurant, here is your best bet when it comes to etiquette and ensuring the staff that you are just as respectful of them as they are of you.

When a member of the staff approaches your table, be it a server, a runner or even a member of the kitchen staff, you should always put on your mask. This shows them that you are respecting their safety, in the same way their mask shows they are respecting yours. In some instances, the server may ask if you are vaccinated, and if you and the rest of your party are vaccinated, they may tell you it’s unnecessary to put on the mask each time someone approaches the table. But if they don’t say this, or some other version of this that makes it clear you don’t need to wear the mask when they’re around, you should continue to make your best effort to do so throughout the meal.

I realize this can be hard at times, as restaurant staff have a unique knack for sneaking up on diners to refill a glass or remove a plate; but as long as you show you are trying, you will show the server you actually care about them and their well-being. This gesture will go a long way, and let’s face it, we could all do with a little bit more humanity following the year we’ve just had.

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