Characteristics Associated With US Adults' Self-Reported COVID-19 Protective Behaviors When Getting Food From Restaurants, Winter 2021

Public Health Rep. 2022 Nov-Dec;137(6):1198-1206. doi: 10.1177/00333549221116360. Epub 2022 Aug 24.


Objectives: Visiting restaurants and bars, particularly when doing so indoors, can increase transmission risk of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, among people who are not fully vaccinated. We aimed to understand US adults' self-reported protective behaviors when getting food from restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic when vaccines were not widely available.

Methods: We used online nationwide survey data from January 2021 to assess self-reported restaurant-related behaviors of respondents (n = 502). We also used multiple logistic regression models to examine associations between respondents' characteristics and these restaurant-related behaviors.

Results: Half (49.7%) of respondents reported eating indoors at a restaurant at least once in the month before the survey. Respondents most likely to report eating inside restaurants were in the youngest age category (18-34 y), had personal COVID-19 experience, or indicated they felt safe eating inside a restaurant. Among respondents who had gotten food from a restaurant, more than 65% considered each of the following factors as important in their restaurant dining decision: whether the restaurant staff were wearing face masks, the restaurant requires face masks, other customers are wearing face masks, seating was spaced at least 6 feet apart, someone in their household was at risk for severe COVID-19 illness, and the restaurant was crowded. The most common protective behavior when eating at a restaurant was wearing a face mask; 44.9% of respondents who had eaten at a restaurant wore a face mask except when actively eating or drinking.

Conclusion: The need for practicing prevention strategies, especially for those not up to date with COVID-19 vaccines, will be ongoing. Our findings can inform COVID-19 prevention messaging for public health officials, restaurant operators, and the public.

Keywords: behavioral science; emerging infectious diseases; environmental health; health promotion; public health.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Pandemics / prevention & control
  • Restaurants*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Self Report


  • COVID-19 Vaccines