As restaurants gear up to extend outdoor dining in colder parts of the country, many are seating guests in enclosed and sometimes heated structures. But when it comes to virus transmission, is eating in covered outdoor setups less risky than inside?

As restaurants try to keep business afloat, many are putting up exterior structures for patrons. But dining tents and other temporary outdoor setups offer a false sense of security and pose just as many risks as indoor eating, professors say. Poor air circulation, proximity to other unmasked diners and time in a poorly ventilated enclosed outdoor space can heighten Covid risks. On the other hand, the transmission risk is higher inside a restaurant than in outdoor structures that are heated yet partially open, or in separate igloos for patrons.

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