Dining Areas

For many of us, it's been difficult to lose the social interaction that comes with dining out during this pandemic. But while your customers are eager to return to your restaurant, they need to know it's safe for them, especially if they're planning on dining in. Our recommendations can help you create the space your customers are craving.

Reduce capacity and encourage social distancing

With physical distancing recommended by the CDC and required by most states, you're going to have to make some changes to the layout of your dining area.

  • Reduce the number of tables and/or chairs and space them out so that they meet the minimum 6' of physical distancing.
  • If removing tables/chairs is not an option or your restaurant allows self-seating, block or otherwise mark which tables/chairs are out of commission.
  • Use tape or place signs on the tabletops noting that the area is not available for their safety.

Promote facemask usage

Restaurants fall under the general guidance (and some state mandates) that facemasks or coverings should be worn in enclosed public spaces. Everyone should wear a mask in the dining area unless they are eating or drinking.

  • Any employee who works in the dining area, including servers, bussers, and hosts, should be wearing a mask.
  • Customers should also wear masks or face coverings when they're not eating or drinking. It will help keep your staff and other patrons safe.

Frequently disinfect high-touch surfaces

As a restaurant owner, your cleaning procedures already include wiping down tables and chairs with disinfectant. But your current product may not be effective against coronavirus.

  • If needed, switch to an EPA-approved disinfectant that kills SARS-CoV-2, and be sure to follow any manufacturer instructions
  • If you're not already wiping down tables and chairs between each guest, update your procedure and be sure to let your staff know about this important change. 

Don’t leave condiments or other shareables on tables.

The risk of transmission from a saltshaker, ketchup bottle, or flip sign may be low, but it is still a risk you don't want to take.

  • Replace all shareable condiments with single-use packets or make them available on request.
    • If you choose shareable condiments on request, make sure the containers are cleaned between guests.
  • Remove on-table advertising or switch them out between every guest and add them to your list of items that need to be cleaned between each use.

Reconsider your menus.

How will your customers know what's available without menus? You have a few different options:

  • Laminated/reusable menus.
    • If your menu isn't going to change, you can either keep or switch to laminated/wipeable menus. These will need to be disinfected after each use.
  • Disposable menus.
    • Single-use menus can be printed in bulk. They're a good option if your menu is small (many restaurants are opting to pare down their menus), and it eliminates the hassle of wiping down a laminated menu.
  • Digital menus.
    • There are growing options for digital menus called up on cell phones by QR codes. A quick Google search can help you find the one that's right for your business.
  • TIP: For all menu options, consider adding friendly reminders about handwashing and facemasks


For further information, consult the CDC's Resuming Business Toolkit, OSHA's Guidance on Returning to Work brochure, and your state's COVID-19 website for current recommendations, mandates, and updates.

Room Checklist 

Reminder signs to maintain social distancing and wear facemasks
Signs or tape to mark booths/tables and self-serve areas as "not for use"

Hand sanitizer
Tabletop sign holders
Barrier shields/partitions
Laminated menus or digital menu system

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