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Following public health guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic has become an unexpectedly contentious subject even on channels like Food Network.

Despite vocal opposition, mask-wearing and social distancing seem to have popular support.

In a recent survey, 67% of Americans claim they wear a mask whenever they’re out and about, and they’ll continue to do so. The ubiquity of masks only serves to make those who aren’t wearing them even more noticeable, even on TV.

New episodes of Restaurant Impossible started airing earlier this year, and fans were appalled at the lack of safety measures at some of the restaurants. 

Fans didn’t see any social distancing on a recent episode of ‘Restaurant Impossible’ 

Chef Robert Irvine
Chef Robert Irvine | John Lamparski/Getty Images for NYCWFF

In a recent Reddit thread, fans commented on the safety measures, or lack thereof, restaurants were taking to combat the pandemic.

Most restaurants are operating at a reduced capacity — or should be. Since tables in restaurants are sometimes close to one another, restaurant managers have to decommission some tables to meet the required six feet of distance between patrons.

In some restaurants, that means stickers or other markings on tables so that patrons know they’re unavailable. 

Fans didn’t see that happening on Restaurant Impossible. When Robert Irvine, the host of the show, called out the owners, the response was unsettling.

According to one Reddit user, the response was worse than the lack of social distancing. “What bothered me most is when Robert asked about the lack of social distancing measures the owners were just like ‘well other restaurants aren’t doing it.’ That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t either… No wonder Florida has such spikes.”

The pandemic may not have hit when ‘Restaurant Impossible’ was filmed 

Although the new episodes aired in the middle of lockdown, they were filmed earlier. It’s possible fans are noticing the lack of social distancing now, but it may not have been a CDC guideline at the time of filming.

According to one fan, these new episodes were filmed back in March. “The first episode of this season was filmed the third and fourth of March, so I imagine as the season progresses it goes through the month of March. Which puts it in that weird transition point of the pandemic (in most places in the US).” 

Most states did not have a mask mandate by March, but the coronavirus was very much in full swing. In fact, the state of Florida declared a State of Emergency on March 1, according to Think Global Health.

That’s where the episode of Restaurant Impossible in question was filmed. So restaurant owners were already on notice that the coronavirus was a big deal. There was no excuse for lack of social distancing at the time this episode was likely filmed. But fans were more disappointed in Irvine

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Fans thought that Irvine should have been tougher on the restaurant owner. They wanted him to call people out, or put his foot down. Instead, he was rather blasé about the lack of safety measures in the restaurant. 

The point of Restaurant Impossible is to revitalize failing restaurants. Customers won’t want to go to restaurants with no safety precautions, and they definitely won’t want to go to a restaurant where people have gotten sick.

Aside from the moral implications of ignoring social distancing guidelines, keeping customers safe is just good business practice. But fans didn’t see Irvine driving that point home with the owners.

In fact, fans were mad that in a previous episode, where restaurant staff was all wearing masks properly, Robert actually asked them to take them off. Fans aren’t sure why, although it may have something to do with masks not looking good on TV.

If Irvine doesn’t start following safety protocols and encouraging the restaurants on his show to do the same, he may end up losing a lot of viewers.