Spring weather and expanded COVID-19 vaccinations are drawing people back outside. Combined with the recently loosened capacity restrictions in restaurants and bars in Pennsylvania, the good news means more people are enjoying restaurant dining – both indoors and outdoors.

With health and safety measures in mind, the pandemic has changed the way many of us view going out to eat and drink. Natural gas and natural gas liquids (NGLs) make possible many of the new additions to Pennsylvania establishments that enable us to dine comfortably and safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While we may be familiar with the use of natural gas and NGLs in restaurants in terms of propane for heating and cooking, natural gas byproducts are also used to manufacture products that protect health and safety for indoor and outdoor dining.

Thanks to natural gas and NGLs, restaurants across the state and country have been able to:

  • Keep diners safe with outdoor tents and plastic shelters made of vinyl, which is manufactured from byproducts of petroleum and natural gas.
  • Keep diners warm while dining outdoors with heaters fueled with propane, also known as liquefied petroleum gas or LPG, a byproduct of natural gas processing.
  • Protect diners and restaurant employees by installing acrylic shields between seats, booths, reception areas and checkout stations. Petrochemical feedstock from petroleum and natural gas is used to produce the basic building blocks for making these shields.
  • Provide us with the personal protective equipment we need to stay safe, like N95 masks and latex gloves, which are made from petroleum and natural gas.
  • Protect patrons and employees inside restaurants with upgraded, modern filtration and ventilation systems using filters made of materials developed from petroleum and natural gas.
  • Disinfect on-the-go with hand sanitizers, which often contain isopropanol, a widely used active ingredient derived from propane that limits the spread of the coronavirus.
  • Package takeout meals for those not able to dine inside, kept warm and portable in containers made from chemicals derived from petroleum and natural gas.

As more people begin to dine out, it’s important to recognize how challenging the past year has been for the restaurant industry and its employees. The establishments that have navigated the capacity and safety restrictions have had to make additional investments during a tough economic time and be inventive when devising ways to safely serve the public. Their approaches would have been nearly impossible without all of the products made from byproducts of natural gas, NGLs and petroleum.