Outdoor dining allowed under new health directive

Restaurants with sit-down meal service can open for outdoor dining, with health and safety plans in place.
June 12, 2020

A new health directive allows for outdoor dining at restaurants that are permitted for sit-down meal service.

These restaurants must have a Social Distancing Protocol and a Health and Safety Plan for operating during the coronavirus pandemic. Both plans must be in place before the restaurant can open for outdoor dining. See all guidelines for operating a business during the coronavirus pandemic.

Bars, wineries, and tasting rooms that are not permitted to serve meals still cannot open.

Customers should follow guidelines to stay safe

Make reservations at the restaurant. Arrive on time, so you do not need to wait long.

It is safest to only sit with people you live with. You are able to sit with up to 5 other people who don’t live with you. But the more people you meet, the more you expose yourself and them to COVID-19.  You cannot have a party made up of multiple tables. See guidance about safer social interactions during the pandemic.

You may not enter the restaurant, unless you must use the restroom, order at an indoor counter, or walk through to get to the outdoor dining area. Wear a face covering when you are not eating, including when staff approaches your table. Stay 6 feet apart from others. 

Restaurants must set up for physical distancing

Restaurants must be able to set up their tables outside, so that patrons are seated 6 feet apart. Another 6 feet must be available for pedestrians. You can get a free temporary permit to use the sidewalk, parking lane, or the entire street

If you cannot space patrons 6 feet apart, you must set up a hard, tall barrier (like Plexiglass) between tables.

Tables should only seat up to 6 customers. You can seat more if everyone is from the same household. Customers should not be served unless they are seated at a table. Customers should not stand between tables.

Use tape or rope to mark paths of travel, if possible. For instance, to direct customers toward different doors for entering and exiting.

All staff must wear face coverings. Customers must also wear face coverings when they are not eating. You must be able to provide face coverings for customers and anyone who works for you. This includes vendors and gig workers.

Increase ventilation from the outside. Only use umbrellas or shade structures if air can move between them. Open windows and doors to protect your staff. Consider getting air cleaners or upgrading air filters.

Restaurants must minimize contact between customers

Encourage customers to make reservations and look at menus on their smartphones. 

Remove any items that customers could share between each other, such as ketchup bottles, decorations on tables, candy bowls, and toothpick dispensers.

Only set up glassware and utensils after customers have been seated. Pre-wrap utensils. Make sure all staff handling utensils have washed their hands.

Have customers pack their own leftovers. Staff should provide containers only when asked.

You should only have live entertainment that uses percussive, string, or electronic instruments. No singing, wind instruments, or brass instruments are allowed.

Restaurants must stop:

  • Providing tableside service (for example, do not use food display carts)
  • Using self-service areas, such as condiments, utensil caddies, buffets, and salad bars
  • Using self-service machines, such as ice, soda, or frozen yogurt dispensers

Restaurants must thoroughly clean between customers

Restaurants must disinfect:

  • Any items used, between customers (such as laminated menus, chairs, booster seats, tablecloths, and utensils)
  • Highly touched surfaces at least once per hour (such as doors, handles, faucets, and tables)
  • High traffic areas, at least once per hour (such as waiting areas, hallways, and bathrooms)

Restaurants must provide dishwashers with protective equipment to prevent splashing into their faces.

Official guidance for outdoor dining

Download all guidance and plans.