Restaurants in Texas and Florida this week are moving from 25% capacity to 50%, as more states across the country set the stage for reopening for dine-in service.
As an early-open state, Texas allowed restaurants to begin limited dine-in service on May 1, but a shift to the next phase allows more expanded service, starting May 22. Bars, wine tasting rooms and craft breweries also are allowed to open May 22 at 25% capacity, though capacity limits don’t apply to outdoor spaces where guests can stay six-feet apart.
However, four Texas counties that have seen a spike in coronavirus cases reportedly must wait to expand restaurant dine-in or open bars, including El Paso, Randall, Potter and Deaf Smith counties.
Florida is also expanding capacity to 50% in much of the state, county by county, and the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association offered this detailed update. Bars will not open yet, but if attached to a restaurant, the bar area can be used for additional seating. Customers, however, still may not sit at the bar.
Restaurants in Ohio were cleared to begin service at outdoor spaces on May 15, and inside dining rooms on May 21. The Ohio Restaurant Association reportedly estimated that about 54% of venues statewide will welcome guests inside their doors this week, while 28% will open for dine-in later.
Kentucky and North Carolina also lift dine-in restrictions this week. Joining them in June will be Massachusetts, Delaware and Minnesota.
As is now common where restrictions have been lifted, the guidelines among these states recommend at least six-feet of space between guests and workers, and the use of disposable napkins, tablecloths and menus, as well as the wearing of facial coverings. Most also prohibit buffets and other self-service areas, and require daily worker temperature checks. Reservations are encouraged to better stagger guests, and guidelines generally encourage the use of contactless ordering, menus and payment.
And in both Kentucky and Delaware, guests can only share a table if they come from the same household.
Colorado issued draft guidelines this week. Like several other states, Colorado suggests restaurants should ask customers to “sign in,” to facilitate contact tracing in the event of an exposure.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker this week pushed back the timing of when restaurants could reopen for dine-in as part of Phase Two, which is now expected to begin the second week of June. Bars won’t be allowed to open until later, likely the end of June.
The information posted on the governor’s website indicates restaurants may be given more specific guidance before Phase Two begins.
Here’s a look at state guidelines released this week:
Colorado: Still grappling with the timeline for restaurants to reopen for dine-in, Gov. Jared Polis on Tuesday offered draft guidelines to get industry input. Capacity will be limited initially — by how much is yet to be determined — but the draft looks for eight feet between tables, rather than the more typical six. Face coverings and gloves would be required for all workers, and family or shift meals could not be consumed onsite.
Delaware: With restaurants scheduled to open for dine-in on June 1, Gov. John Carney said this week that restaurants, bars, taprooms and craft breweries could apply for expanded outdoor seating capacity, starting May 22, to better serve customers safely when they reopen. Those with a liquor license must also have their plans reviewed by the office of alcoholic beverage control prior to approval.
Under the first phase, restaurants are limited to 30% capacity. In addition to the standard rules on social distancing, restaurant workers must wear masks, only members of the same household can be seated at a table, and reservations are required for table service.
Kentucky: Restaurants will be able to offer dine-in service at 33% capacity, starting May 22, following 12 guidelines under Gov. Andy Beshear’s “Healthy at Work” plan. In addition to social distancing, Kentucky is also restricting table seating to parties of 10 or less, and those sitting together must all be from the same household. Reservations and electronic menus are encouraged. Face coverings must be worn by workers if near others, and restaurants may refuse service to guests who don’t wear masks in common areas.
Minnesota: Beginning June 1, restaurants and bars can reopen for outdoor service only as long as they have adopted a COVID-19 preparedness plan, ensure social distancing, limit capacity to no more than 50 people with four per table (or six if family unit). Reservations are required and workers must wear masks.
North Carolina: As part of Phase Two of Gov. Roy Cooper’s plan, restaurants are allowed to offer dine-in service at 50% capacity starting May 22. Among the guidelines, face masks are strongly recommended for both workers and guests and businesses are encouraged to provide them.
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