Sioux Falls residents show continued reluctance to dine in restaurants, attend events

Jan. 7, 2021

Sioux Falls residents 50 and older are being especially cautious when it comes to visiting restaurants or attending events, but all age groups clearly haven’t returned to normal activities.

That’s according to a new survey from SiouxFalls.Business and the Augustana Research Institute.

Those and other insights on how the community is responding to the pandemic at this stage came from 500 readers who responded to the open survey that was conducted Dec. 13-23. It is not a scientific survey, but it does include representation from all age groups. Respondents were 55 percent female and 45 percent male.

The survey respondents skewed slightly older than our previous two surveys, with 62 percent of respondents reporting they are 50 or older.

Our respondents also reflect a few populations. They are most likely English speakers. They are more likely to own a home. And they likely are engaged with news, or they would not have found the survey. So keep those things in mind to avoid thinking this survey should stand as representative for the entire community.

Respondents were asked how they felt about dining in a restaurant, and reaction was tightly split. A little over half said they were not comfortable.

Among people 50 and over, the responses were more pronounced, with 59 percent saying they were not comfortable dining in a restaurant, and 41 percent saying they are.

Among those younger than 50, 63 percent said they are comfortable dining in a restaurant, and 37 percent are not.

Many respondents said they will go to restaurants if they feel precautions are being taken.

“I feel comfortable in restaurants that have socially distanced their seating,” one respondent said. “I have been to one restaurant where they didn’t do that, and I won’t go back until we’re further along with vaccines.”

Others said they try to go at nonpeak times or places they think will be less crowded.

“I try to go to places that aren’t so busy, and I always wear a mask except while eating,” one said.

Many said they didn’t believe the risk of exposure was worth the experience of sitting in a restaurant but that they continue to order carryout or have food delivered.

“I feel the staff wearing masks and added cleaning measures are sufficient to keep one fairly safe,” one respondent said. “Plus, I would go stir-crazy if I absolutely could not leave my house!”

Several people said they already had COVID-19 and felt they still had enough immunity to safely dine out.

“I am in a low-risk category and am not around those in a high-risk category,” one respondent said. “I believe in supporting local businesses. Each person has to be responsible and make appropriate decisions for their own situation.”

Nearly three-quarters of residents said they were at least somewhat comfortable going to outdoor events and activities, though 22 percent are not comfortable.

There also were differences related to age in comfort level with activities.

For those older than 50, 38 percent are somewhat comfortable with outdoor events and activities. Nearly 29 percent are very comfortable, but 28 percent are not comfortable. And 6 percent aren’t sure.

Those younger than 50 are largely OK with outdoor events – 85 percent are somewhat or very comfortable with them – while 12 percent aren’t.

One respondent is comfortable “if the activity isn’t too crowded,” the person said. “We take walks and hike, mostly during the week. I would be somewhat uncomfortable with crowded bike trails and hiking paths.”

Many expressed concern with crowd sizes they felt were too large.

“Anything you can stay properly socially distanced. Would not want to go to a concert where everyone is packed in,” one said.

Residents were considerably less comfortable with indoor events and activities. Thirteen percent are very comfortable, and less than one-quarter are somewhat comfortable, while 61 percent are not comfortable.

With indoor events and activities, two-thirds of those older than 50 said they are not comfortable attending, 18 percent are somewhat comfortable, 10 percent are very comfortable, and 4 percent aren’t sure.

Among those younger than 50, nearly half also said they are not comfortable with indoor events and activities. One-third are somewhat comfortable, and 17 percent are very comfortable.

“I’m not ready for concerts or other events where people are yelling, etc., but not concerned about other indoor activities,” one respondent said.

Those activities people mentioned they would attend include sporting events, school concerts and limited-capacity events.

“I hope to go to the State Theatre soon,” one said. “It seems like they’ve done a good job with distancing.”

One respondent has attended only one event since the pandemic “and 19 of 20 people did not mask,” the person said. “Five days later, we all got a text saying two of the people at the event had tested positive.”

Survey respondents also were somewhat reluctant to return to their place of worship.

Forty-five percent said they did not feel comfortable going yet, while 35 percent said they do, and 20 percent do not attend regularly.

“My church only allows a certain number of attendees, and mask are required … plus, (there’s) online viewing of the service,” one respondent said.

Masking largely appeared to be the determining factor for people’s comfort levels. Those who said they were comfortable attending a worship service pointed to mask requirements, and those who were not cited the lack of masking and distancing as the reason.

“Sadly, face coverings are only encouraged and not required,” one said. “Very few wear them, including the pastoral staff.”

“I am not comfortable at church as the times I have attended it seems to be more people that fall in the at-risk category, elderly, and I choose to not potentially put them at risk if I can pass the virus to them,” another said.

Sioux Falls residents weigh in on COVID-19 response, masking, vaccinations

Want to stay in the know?

Get our free business news delivered to your inbox.

Sioux Falls residents show continued reluctance to dine in restaurants, attend events

From restaurant dining to events, activities and worshipping, we asked Sioux Falls residents how comfortable they are going back.

News Tip

Have a business news item to share with us?

Scroll to top