Seeing many restaurants erect outdoor tents over the past few weeks, I decided to reach out to our top healthcare professionals in the Ask The Doctor network to ask them about the safety of dining in these outdoor covered patios.

Outdoor patios have kept many bars and restaurants alive over the summer while many patrons chose to avoid indoor dining during this coronavirus pandemic.

With winter season upon us and the window for outdoor dining growing smaller, many restaurants have turned to heated tents to extend their season as long as possible.

Restaurants and bar owners advertise these tents as a way to continue to dine outdoors in a safe and warm fashion. But is it really safe?

A majority of Doctors and epidemiologists we interviewed had a different opinion, on the other hand.

“Large and wide open spaces are better than anything that is covered up and enclosed,” said Jayaprakash Muliyil, a world renowned epidemiologist and advisory board member at Ask The Doctor.

Closed canopies can cause the virus to spread easier than just having a wide open space, he said.

Dr. Vijay Chhabra, an internist for AIIMS Hospital and consultant at Ask The Doctor, cautions that the science behind these tents is hardly conclusive.

“It's a difficult question to address because (tents) are so different from one venue to the next,” Chhabra said.

Without proper circulation, a closed-off tent can be equally or more dangerous than an indoor dining room, he said.

“How can we effectively determine how quickly the volume of air can recirculate and get replaced?” Chhabra said.

When the purpose of the tent is to keep customers warm rather than produce proper airflow quality, there is a big problem, he said.

In conclusion dining outdoor in an enclosed tent has high risks until proper guidelines and measures have been established. If you do choose to dine out please make sure to take as many precautions as possible which include wearing a mask and staying within your circle.