Guidance for dine-in restaurants as re-opening phases begin

By 4.4 min readPublished On: May 14, 2020

Our lives and the economy have been disrupted in unimaginable ways due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, we can’t keep the world shut down forever, life must continue into the next phase of normal. Whilst the country plans to start re-opening in phases, they use what has been learnt from China for the foundation of the approach. You can check in the map here for the re-opening of states.

The restaurant industry, more than any other industry in the nation, has suffered the most significant sales and job losses since the COVID-19 outbreak began. So far, more than 8 million restaurant employees have been laid off or furloughed, and the industry has lost close to $80 billion in sales already, with a total projection of $240 billion in sales lost for the by the end of 2020.

Some restaurants have been able to stay afloat by offering takeout and delivery to their customers, but this hasn’t been able to help everyone. As the country starts to open state economies in phases, restaurants will soon be able to start serving sit-down customers. Like everything, there is a “new normal” approach, so if you’re planning on opening your restaurant for dine-in guests you will need to know how to prepare your space. California, Georgia and Florida are a few to mention that have re-opened, but each state will have different phased openings and different guidelines.

We’ve gone ahead and put together some guidance based for your restaurant to follow for Dine-In guests below:

Clean, Sanitize & Disinfect

Before you get ready to re-open, make sure you have your entire restaurant properly cleaned, sanitized, and disinfected. This initial clean is important, but it’s also what you do after to keep it clean. You must continue to keep surfaces clean and disinfect before, during, and after every shift and even every seating change. You should also make sanitizer available to your customers by placing them on every table, bathroom, and entry and exit.

However, it doesn’t stop there. Proper hygiene and hand washing from all your staff will help reduce the cross-contamination in your restaurant.  It’s important to remember that hygiene starts before your employees get to work and is essential to protect themselves and others.

You can read more on hygiene safety guidelines for your restaurant here.

Protect your staff

Make sure you provide your staff with the necessary items for protection like gloves, masks and sanitizers to ensure they can protect others and themselves.

  • If you buy disposable masks in bulk, make sure they are accessible to your staff on arrival.
  • A great marketing initiative would be to make branded masks for your staff. You could even offer them for sale to customers who might be interested or forgot their mask in the car or at home.
  • The pre-screening of staff and guests for symptoms should be mandatory by taking temperatures on arrival.
  • Encourage contactless payments like card taps, apple or google pay etc. to help reduce unnecessary contact.

You can read more on employee safety guidelines for your restaurant here.

Social Distancing

Your staff and your guests should remember to social distance at all times.

  • You can place tables 6 feet apart.
  • You can keep your seating as is and put signage that says “not used for social distancing” on tables that won’t be used.
  • Bar areas must remain closed.
  • Encourage customers to make reservations to allow restaurants time to prepare for guests and ask people to sit in their cars while waiting to be seated.

A Breath of Fresh Air

With summer coming and the good weather rolling in, there is no better reason to place guests outside. Most restaurants will be limited to the amount of occupancy they can fill in their restaurant, so If you have outdoor seating, use it and try and expand it to help replace those unused tables inside. This could be done by asking to use adjacent parking lots or sidewalks.

For indoor seating, make sure windows and doors remain open to increase air circulation and ask guests to wear masks when not eating or drinking.

One-use items

This one really rubs me the wrong way, because here we have been almost saving the environment from lack of pollution and garbage, and now we are going to start adding more garbage. But if you want to stay safe you will need to make sure the following are disposable to minimize contact from staff and customers.

  • Provide one-use menus for each customer. Try by explaining to your customers and see if they are happy to share one menu per table.
  • Utilize single-use utensils, plates, and cups.
  • Replace communal, refillable condiments with single serve packets.

Please remember to use recyclable or composable items where you can.

We are just as excited as you are to get back to business. Keep your selves and your customers safe and healthy by following the above. Don’t forget to use your website and social media to keep customers up to date on what’s happening with your business.

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See you next week!

Your devoted hostess,


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