Dear Neighbor,

Not only is indoor dining resuming tomorrow, Mayor de Blasio has declared outdoor dining here to stay. Love the latter. Confess to being a bit ambivalent on the former. We reached out to Ellie Davis, 24, who serves and bartends at a Midtown restaurant to get the scoop. We first chatted with Davis in July, when she advised our readers how to be respectful while dining out during the Covid pandemic.

It’s been over six months since Governor Cuomo originally ordered restaurants to close their doors. What’s the consensus among your coworkers about the return to indoor dining? Some of my coworkers are completely comfortable serving and don’t feel their health is at risk. Some of my coworkers have been financially strong-armed into returning. Unemployment assistance is low and unreliable. So while some of us are happy to be back, many of us have no choice.

For now, restaurants can only operate at 25% capacity — what exactly does that mean? From my perspective, 25% is a line that will be blurred. With masks off at tables and people moving freely through the restaurant, I almost think it’s kind of pointless to limit capacity. Everybody dining out right now is willingly exposing themselves, and I think that’s their right, so long as they are responsible with who they come into contact with in their daily lives. As for profit, even in a high-turnover establishment, operating at that limited of a capacity is a huge loss for everybody involved in providing the dining experience.

Is there a silver lining? My hope is that people will have a new respect for service workers and what we’re putting at risk for your experience — which pays our bills — and we are essential in our own way. We create environments for your celebrations and memories. You’ve missed us — don’t forget how much.

What would you like to say to guests? Some people are working under great duress. Some of us have buried our loved ones and dealt with depression and loneliness and hardship, just like you. Many of us lost health insurance. Some of us have no choice. Keep that in mind when you decide whether or not to go out to eat again (indoors). Be prepared to tip extra, wait longer and abide by rules you may not like.

In this new reality, what has been particularly trying? Outdoor dining is uncomfortable and hot and challenging for servers to maneuver, so why are you all bringing your dog? Enough of that, please, unless it’s a service animal.

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