After months of adhering to only takeout and delivery mandates, restaurants in nearly all 50 states are now allowed to offer dine-in service as long as they comply with the regulations outlined by their local government. Georgia was the first state to reopen its dining rooms in late April, while Massachusetts just reintroduced indoor dining on June 22.
Of course, it’s not business, as usual, any longer. The dine-in options come with restrictions, so owners must consult with their local health agencies for guidelines. Generally, however, you will come across rules like these:
- Required cloth-facial coverings for staff and encourage patrons to wear these as well
- Limit the number of people per party and per table
- Reduce overall guest occupancy in the establishment
- Establish 6-feet distance between tables and workstations
- Sanitize dining tables and seats after each sitting
- Provide single-use menus, condiments, and disposable or pre-rolled silverware
- Prioritize outdoor seating
- Implement policies and procedures training for employee and guest safety
- Close-off self-service stations (salad bars, salsa bars, fountain drink area, etc.)
- Establish special hours for high-risk patrons
- Encourage reservations if patrons would like to dine-in
- Install barriers like sneeze guards and partitions in areas where social distancing is hard to maintain
- Provide personal protective equipment for your employees
- Remove board games, books, pool tables, or other shared entertainment items
- Provide contactless payment options for guests
- Implement online ordering of meals ahead of time for those looking to dine-in
The importance of following your local government’s dine-in guidelines cannot be understated. You won’t be hard-pressed to find various restaurants across the country suddenly close their doors (after only reopening dine-in service for a few weeks) due to employees or individuals testing positive for COVID-19. In fact, in Miami, police now can shut down a business on the spot for violating capacity restrictions. Save yourself time and headaches and follow safety guidelines!
Pro tip: If your establishment serves alcohol, you might find this resource handy from the National Restaurant Association on state alcohol delivery laws, including off-premise alcohol sales updated on June 23, 2020.
If you need a review of your COVID training and dine-in environment, please reach out to Synergy. We also offer remote consulting options.