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Here are basic principles to keep in mind when making decisions as published by the CDC in May 2020.

As restaurants and bars resume operations in some areas of the United States, CDC offers the following considerations for ways in which operators can protect employees, customers, and communities and slow the spread of COVID-19. Restaurants and bars can determine, in collaboration with state and local health officials, whether and how to implement these considerations, making adjustments to meet the needs and circumstances of the local community. Implementation should be guided by what is feasible, practical, acceptable, and tailored to the needs of each community. These considerations are meant to supplement—not replace—any state, local, territorial, or tribal health and safety laws, rules, and regulations with which businesses must comply.

Guiding Principles to Keep in Mind

The more an individual interacts with others, and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread. The risk of COVID-19 spread increases in a restaurant or bar setting as follows:

  • Lowest Risk: Food service limited to drive-through, delivery, take-out, and curb-side pick up.
  • More Risk: Drive-through, delivery, take-out, and curb-side pick up emphasized. On-site dining limited to outdoor seating. Seating capacity reduced to allow tables to be spaced at least 6 feet apart.
  • Even More Risk: On-site dining with both indoor and outdoor seating. Seating capacity reduced to allow tables to be spaced at least 6 feet apart.
  • Highest Risk: On-site dining with both indoor and outdoor seating. Seating capacity not reduced and tables not spaced at least 6 feet apart.

COVID-19 is mostly spread by respiratory droplets released when people talk, cough, or sneeze. It is thought that the virus may spread to hands from a contaminated surface and then to the nose or mouth, causing infection. Therefore, personal prevention practices (such as handwashingstaying home when sick) and environmental cleaning and disinfection are important principles that are covered in this document. Fortunately, there are a number of actions operators of restaurants and bars can take to help lower the risk of COVID-19 exposure and spread.


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