It’s no secret that most restaurants survive on thin margins, so when New Jersey officials started recommending “social distancing” to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, those in the business knew it could spell disaster for their bottom lines.

We asked how patrons can help. Here is what people told us:

Be understanding if a restaurant is short staffed or closed when they’re normally open. It’s important for everyone’s sake that restaurant workers be able to stay home when they are sick. Don’t post negative reviews if you have to wait a long time for your food or if they’re out of something — extraordinary times call for extraordinary patience.

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Ask for no-contact delivery if someone in your home is sick, and don’t be surprised if the restaurant asks if they can leave the food at your door. Drivers want to limit their exposure to other people, too.

Ask for curbside pickup so you don’t have to crowd together inside at busy times.

Consider getting take-out or delivery from places where you’d normally eat in, if you’re concerned about being in public spaces. Your dining room may not have the same ambiance as your favorite fancy restaurant, but the food will be just as tasty.

Don’t go to a restaurant if you’re sick. Just don’t do it.

Tip well, even if you’re not dining in. With fewer patrons coming in, restaurant workers need gratuities more than ever.

Buy gift cards to use when this is all over. It will help their cash flow right now, and give you something to look forward to when this is all behind us.

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