Opinion: Hey, Burnaby diners, do servers a favour and mask up

Chris Campbell

When I advocate for mandatory masks in Metro Vancouver for all indoor public spaces, one argument is that diners can’t eat and wear a mask at the same time.

No, of course you can’t. But that isn’t an excuse for not wearing a mask at all while in a restaurant. I’ve eaten out a few times since June 1 in Burnaby and most of the diners I’ve witnessed are not wearing masks.

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That’s a selfish move and puts Burnaby serving staff at risk.

Most Burnaby restaurant staff that I have seen are wearing masks, gloves and/or face shields. Not all of them, which is disappointing, but most.

But an even higher percentage of diners are also not bothering with a mask when they enter a restaurant. I’ve even seen some walking towards a restaurant actually take off the mask when they enter, as though being that close to food means a mask isn’t needed.

But you’re still getting close to other diners and, also, the restaurant staff.

piva new westminster
Piva staff get the kitchen ready for a reopening of sit-down meals on June 3. - Cornelia Naylor photo

They come to take your order and maintain a distance, but they are still wearing a mask and so should you. The only time to take off the mask is during the actual eating and drinking.

The photo posted above prompted a lot of comments about how workers are taking COVID-19 more seriously that customers.

“This image is so chilling to me,” wrote Ken Greller, an American writer. “How can you go out for a meal, sit there with no mask on, see that this is the person serving you and not think... maybe you're doing something selfish and unnecessary?But the reality is we've been trained to see service workers as functionaries, not as people. And white folks especially have been happily conditioned to minimize our own anxiety around how our actions might impact others.”

Another person commented on the photo on Twitter with this: “WEAR A MASK WHILE YOUR SERVER IS TAKING YOUR ORDER FFS. Honestly your mask should only be off if you are actively shoving food into your mouth.”

It’s a matter of safety, but it’s also a matter of respect for workers so make sure you show some.

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.

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