Pandemic Dining: Temperature Checks, Time Limits, and Dividers

Editor’s Note: This article is part of Uncharted, a series about the world we’re leaving behind, and the one being remade by the pandemic.

HONG KONG—On a recent Friday night, a masked, affable hostess at Hong Kong’s Buenos Aires Polo Club was eager to show patrons to their tables. But before they stepped into the Argentinian steak house, they needed to answer a few questions.

“Have you been outside of Hong Kong?”

“Experienced any symptoms commonly associated with the coronavirus?”

“Have you come into ‘direct contact with or the immediate vicinity of anyone’ carrying the coronavirus or who has been outside the city within the last 14 days?”

The health declaration, handed to diners on a hefty but stylish clipboard, comes along with a second temperature check. (The first is done at the main entrance to the tower that houses the restaurant, a requirement to get in.) Only then does the routine of a night out return, briefly, to the familiar “Right this way” and “Enjoy your meal.” Inside, tucked into tufted leather booths surrounded by polo memorabilia and perched on high seats at the marble bar, guests slide their face masks into small paper bags. Tiny bottles of hand sanitizer marked with the restaurant’s logo, a galloping horse ridden by two men, one grasping a mallet, are delivered table side.

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