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Northeast Ohio restaurants add new outdoor dining options amid COVID-19 pandemic

However, there are questions related to the risk of exposure to the virus.

AKRON, Ohio — As the weather changes, restaurants are finding new ways to provide outdoor dining options during the pandemic.

At Nauti Vine Winery in Portage Lakes, a set of four "wine bubbles" have been added to the outdoor patios to give guests a private dining experience and to limit contact with staff and others at the winery. Each space is cleaned and sanitized after use and includes a heater to keep guests warm during their visit.

“We’re hoping that people stick with their family units and the people they have determined are safe and are comfortable to be around during this time during COVID,” said Co-owner Erica Wathey.

The winery has reduced their indoor capacity to allow for social distancing. Wathey said they looked for ways to accept more customers safely by utilizing additional outdoor space during the colder months.

“We’re taking it slow,” said Wathey. “Offering the opportunity to people who feel comfortable doing it.”

In Downtown Cleveland, the restaurant Betts installed private greenhouses.

But there are questions related to the risk of exposure.

“This is a new idea,” said Tonia Burford, Environmental Health Director with the Summit County Health Department. “It’s not something we have a lot of data or science on to guide us. I will say that anytime you put yourself in an enclosed space where you have the potential of breathing someone’s respiratory droplets, you open yourself up to being exposed to COVID-19.”

Burford said people should understand the risks and be aware of their surroundings.

“It’s still an enclosed space, so you want to make sure that you’re only with people you would normally be with,” said Burford. “Anytime that we open up and we allow ourselves to have close contact with friends or family that we normally don’t see, it always increases your likelihood that you may have an exposure.”

Burford advises people to keep their distance from those who may be sick or those who they don’t have contact with on a regular basis.


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