iIt’s hard to keep track of anything in 2020, and statewide dining restrictions for restaurants due to the COVID-19 pandemic are at the top of that list. Due to recent surges in cases of the novel coronavirus nationwide, many states have reinstated restaurant rules they'd previously rolled back during reopening earlier this year. As the winter approaches, COVID-19 cases are expected to climb, so restaurants may face more closures or restrictions on opening in the coming months.
To help restaurants across the country find up-to-date information on whether they're allowed to open during the coronavirus pandemic, we've compiled this 50-state index of COVID-19 restaurant & bar rules. We'll be updating this story weekly on Fridays with relevant adjustments to each state's restaurant restrictions.
Pro tip: Use Control+F (Windows) or Command+F (Mac) to quickly locate your state's guidelines!
According to Alabama Public Health, patrons are encouraged to adhere to social distancing guidelines in bar areas. A state-wide mask mandate remains in effect.
According to Anchorage Daily News, patrons will also be limited to table service only under new changes to city pandemic restrictions. That means no standing up, sitting at the bar or ordering from the bar.
At bars and restaurants, outdoor seating in tents will still be allowed, but to allow for ventilation, the tents must have at least two walls removed, four walls rolled up at least halfway or windows that allow for an equal amount of ventilation.
Tables at hospitality establishments must be at least 6 feet apart, and only members of the same group can sit at a table.
Indoor tables also need to be 6 feet from each other, or have a partition in between tables.
Masks must be worn by all customers when they aren’t eating or drinking.
According to Arizona Department of Health Services, community spread levels are defined by three thresholds (consistent with the national standards set by the Coronavirus Task Force): MINIMAL (<10 cases/100,000); MODERATE (10-100 cases/100,000); SUBSTANTIAL (>100 cases/100,000)
Occupancy if “Minimal”: 50% occupancy only if converted to restaurant service until <3% positivity. Once <3% positivity, 50% if operating as a bar.
Occupancy if “Moderate”: 50% only if converted to restaurant service.
Occupancy if “Substantial”: Closed
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, dine-in service may continue; seating may now increase to up to 66% (or two-thirds) of total seating capacity. Seating shall be adjusted to maintain six (6) feet between occupied seats at adjacent tables. Groups for bars and restaurants must be 10 or fewer customers. Patrons must wear a face covering while in the establishment when physical distancing of 6 feet cannot be ensured.
According to the Restaurant Business Online, California will close restaurant dining rooms for a third time, starting Tuesday, in nearly three-fourths of its counties, a move Gov. Gavin Newsom described as “pulling the emergency brake” on a runaway increase of coronavirus infections in the nation’s largest restaurant market.
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, as of Jan. 4, several counties will move to level orange (high risk) on the state dial in response to rapid and widespread COVID-19 transmission. Level orange counties will see indoor dining open at 25% capacity.
According to Connecticut Official State Website, the state is rolling back to Phase 2 effective November 6, 2020. Restaurants will be required to close by 9:30 p.m., with the exception of food takeout and delivery services, which will be allowed to continue after 9:30 p.m.
According to Delaware Health and Social Services, effective February 12, Gov. John Carney loosened restrictions and capped the occupancy of restaurants at 50%.
According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, bars must limit party size at tables to no more than six (6), enforce Social Distancing of non-cohabiting persons while present on such entity's leased or owned property and shall only provide service to seated patrons, or, if not applicable, to patrons in designated areas that are practicing social distancing.
As of March, Hawaii significantly eased COVID restrictions and is now under the modifications to Tier 3 of the city’s reopening strategy.
Oahu bars, which have been shut down since August, can reopen immediately and operate the same way that restaurants do. Both bars and restaurants will be allowed to serve alcohol until midnight. Previously, restaurants had to stop serving alcohol at 10 p.m.
According to Idaho’s Official Government Website, standing-room service will be prohibited at bars, restaurants and nightclubs in an effort to discourage social mingling. Limited occupancy encouraged, but not required, as long as social distancing maintained.
As of March 2, City officials that, effective immediately, restaurants, bars and events can offer indoor service at 50% capacity. Outdoor dining can now also accommodate more than six people per table. Restaurants, bars and event venues will be limited to 50 people within any one space. The curfew for restaurants and bars is being extended from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. Alcohol sales from liquor stores and other establishments can also continue until 11 p.m., after nearly a year of being limited to a 9 p.m. stop time.
According to the Indiana State Department of Health, restaurants and bars must maintain appropriate social distancing. A bar section must have people seated. A state-wide mask mandate will remain in effect.
According to the State of Iowa’s Alcoholic Beverage Division, effective at 12:01 a.m. on November 17, and continuing until 11:59 p.m. on December 10 the following guidelines must be followed:
The regulations according to Kentucky’s “Healthy At Work” Policy are as follows:
According to The Advocate, Louisiana bars can only start serving again in parishes that show a positivity rate of 5 percent or less for two consecutive weeks, and if the local governing authority – presumably the mayor – opts to do so.
According to the State of Maine, the state was set to move into Phase 4, which would allow bars to reopen and restaurants to increase capacity to 50%; however, the governor put this plan “on hold” as cases began to surge.
According to the Maryland Department of Health, all establishments should establish a 6-foot marking system to visually demonstrate the recommended social distancing at all locations where customers and staff congregate. Customers seated at the bar must comply with the appropriate social distancing guidelines of at least 6 feet, except for households or a group seated together. Standing in a bar area should not be permitted.
As of November 18th, a 10 p.m. curfew for all bars and restaurants across the state will be enforced to tighten capacity limits.
As of March 1, restaurants in Massachusetts will no longer be subject to percentage-based capacity limits, as the state enters Phase 3, Step 2 of its reopening plan. Restaurants will also be permitted to host musical performances; must adhere to six-foot social distancing, limits of six people per table.
As of February 1, restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen at 25% capacity with up to 100 people. Tables must be six feet apart, with no more than six people per table. Outdoor tents with four sides are permitted under the same rules.
Bars and restaurants have to close by 10 p.m. and contact information must be collected from diners for contact tracing purposes.
According to Minnesota's Industry Health Guidelines, occupancy capacity is limited to no more than 50% of established capacity, up to a maximum of 250 patrons inside (from 150 patrons); and a maximum of 250 patrons outside (from 150 patrons). Social distancing of 6 feet must be maintained between parties. Onsite dining hours are between 4:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. (previously 10:00 p.m.) Take-out and delivery may occur after 11:00 p.m. Party/table size must be limited to no more than six people. A party of two may be seated together at a bar or counter. Patrons are required to wear masks indoors, except when eating or drinking and must be seated in all areas, except for limited, separated activities outlined in the restaurant guidance.
According to the Mississippi Department of Health, all parties or groups must be separated by a minimum of 6 feet. Bars may sell alcohol only to seated customers and hours are restricted to 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
As of March 1, restaurants, taverns, and venues for food and drink must limit occupancy to 50%; require indoor patrons to be seated and wearing masks unless actively eating or drinking; limit parties to 10 or fewer persons. Bars and restaurants that serve alcohol must limit groups to 10 persons; observe social distancing between tables; require customers to wear masks when not seated and require customers to remain seated when not entering, exiting, or visiting the restroom, bar, or buffet.
According to the State of Montana, establishments must follow physical distancing guidelines (at least 6 feet apart). Bars and restaurants must remove all customers by 10:00 p.m. Mask required while indoors (except for when eating and drinking).
According to Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services. Patrons must remain seated unless placing order or going to a restroom. Table size limited to eight.
A Nevada Covid-19 task force recently met to discuss lifting restriction on bars. Bars and restaurants can operate within limitations including mourning distance between customers and facial coverings all around. Customers seated at tables can still be served alcohol, but they cannot congregate in bar areas or be served at the bar. All bar tops will be closed.
According to New Hampshire's Food Service Industry, social distancing must be built into food service operations to maintain a safe distance of at least 6 feet between employees and customers when feasible.
Limit tables to no more than six (6) adults per table and no more than ten (10) individuals total. 4) Table spacing (both indoors and outdoors) should be maintained so people sitting at adjacent tables are more than 6 feet apart.
Bar areas can open while following social distancing protocols between groups or individuals seated at the bar (capacity may be affected to maintain the appropriate social distancing). Customers are not allowed to stand/mingle in the bar area and must be seated (no groups interacting with each other).
According to the Official State Site of New Jersey, restaurants and bars must adhere to the following:
According to the New Mexico Department of Health, food and drink establishments must complete the New Mexico Safe Certification program by Oct. 30 to offer indoor dining at 25% of maximum capacity. If a food establishment fails to complete the free certification program, it will not be allowed to provide indoor dining. All tables, whether located indoors or outdoors, must be spaced at least six feet apart, and no more than six patrons are permitted at a single table. Any food or drink establishment in New Mexico that serves alcohol must close at 10 p.m. each night. The businesses must also consent to spot testing of employees, and establish a logbook of all customers who dine-in.
Governor Andtew Cuomo has announced that restaurants throughout New York state, which are currently operating at 50%, could expand to 75% indoor dining capacity starting March 19th. He also announced that restaurants in New York City and the state of New Jersey will be permitted to increase indoor dining capacity to 50% starting March 19th.
Governor Cuomo signed an executive order on February 14, 2021 to extend the closing times for restaurants, bars, gyms and fitness centers, casinos, billiards halls, as well as other State Liquor Authority-licensed establishments, from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Restaurants are required to adhere to the following:
According to Responsible RestartOhio, restaurants and bars must ensure a minimum of six feet between parties waiting and when dining; if not possible, utilize barriers or other protective devices. Customers and guests must wear face coverings at all times, except when dining. A maximum of 10 people per party.
According to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s new COVID-19 restrictions, the folliwing guidlines must be followed starting Thursday, Nov. 19:
After cases decreased, Portland briefly began serving up to 100 people indoors; however, as of April 9, Multnomah and Clackamas counties will re-enter the state’s “high risk” meaning estaurants can’t serve more than 50 people indoors or at 25 percent capacity, whichever is smaller; the state will reassign county risk levels on April 20, to go into effect April 23.
According to the Official Pennsylvania Website, restaurants and bars can limit indoor occupancy to 50% of stated fire code maximum occupancy, if the facility has self-certified starting on September 21st. If restaurants do not self-certify, they may not exceed 25% of the indoor occupancy limit.
Food service businesses serving alcohol for on-site consumption must end alcohol sales at 11 p.m. and all alcoholic beverages must be removed from patrons by midnight.
All customers are required to wear masks while entering, exiting, or otherwise traveling throughout the restaurant or retail food service business. Face coverings may be removed while seated. Customers must have at least six feet between parties at tables, (i.e., the six feet cannot include the space taken up by the seated guest) or physical barriers between customers where booths are arranged back to back. If tables or other seating are not movable, parties must be seated at least six feet apart.
According to Reopening Rhode Island, indoor venues operating at a percent capacity in phase 2 can increase up to 66% capacity with 6-foot spacing; indoor venues operating at a square footage capacity in phase 2 can increase up to 1 person per 100 square feet with 6-foot spacing.
The governor of South Carolina recently announced that requirements such as spacing tables six feet apart, limiting the number of diners per table to eight and not allowing people to congregate while waiting will now only be strongly encouraged, not necessary.
While South Dakota businesses were never “forced to close”, the state's “Back to Normal” plan provides guidelines for best practices.
According to Tennseee’s Office of the Governor, social distancing is required in waiting areas and restrooms and tables should be spaced 6 feet apart. Face coverings should be worn by patrons except while eating or drinking. Bars, bar areas, night clubs, and limited service restaurants should seat tables and parties separated by at least 6 feet and limit gathering by unseated persons.
According to the Texas Restaurant Association, all customers within bars or restaurants must be seated while eating or drinking. All individuals must wear a face covering (over the nose and mouth) wherever it is not feasible to maintain 6 feet of social distancing from another individual not in the same household, except when seated at the bar or similar establishment to eat or drink.
According to the Utah's Department of Health website, the state is under a statewide mask ban as of 11/8/20.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the restaurant waiting areas must still maintain a 6-feet social distancing, but this does not apply to the the dining room in moderate-transmission counties; bars are limited to 75% capacity and must ask guests to wear masks while mingling with people outside of their group. Distancing in bars and eateries is not mandated in the least restrictive areas. The latest system does away with most previous guidelines, and officials say they are relying on businesses to take responsibility for keeping their customers safe.
According to the State of Vermont, the following guidelines are required for bars and restaurants to reopen:
According to Virginia’s state guidelines, all parties must be separated by at least 6 feet, including in the bar area, (i.e., the 6 feet cannot include the space taken up by the seated guest). If tables are not movable, seat parties at least 6 feet apart, including in the bar area. Spacing must also allow for physical distancing from areas outside of the facility’s control (i.e., provide physical distancing from persons on public sidewalks). All parties, whether seated together or across multiple tables, must be limited to 250 patrons or less. Restaurants may use non-bar seating in the bar area, as long as a minimum of six feet between tables is provided. Bar seats and congregating areas of restaurants must be closed to patrons except for through-traffic. If live musicians are performing at an establishment, they must remain at least ten feet from patrons and staff. Karaoke is prohibited in phase 3.
According to Washington’s State Site, restaurants and bars can resume indoor dining at 25% capacity.
According to West Virginia Strong, all seating (bar and dining area) should be spaced to maintain at least six (6) feet of distance between patrons who do not reside or arrive together. Patrons are not allowed congregate in waiting areas
According to the State of Wisconsin’s latest order, due to surge in Covid-19 cases, groups larger than 25% of the indoor room’s occupancy are prohibited, as determined by the local municipality. For example, if the local municipality sets a capacity limit of 100 people in a given indoor room, only 25 people would be able to be in that room.
According the Wyoming Department of Health, customers must be seated at tables or booths. If seated at a bar, patrons of separate households or groups must be 6 (six) feet apart. Tables must be limited to eight (8) people, unless the members of one household exceed that number. Tables must be positioned so that patrons at different tables are at least six (6) feet apart from each other on all sides (does not apply to booths). Due to winter, plans to expand indoor dining are currently in discussion.
[Photo via Pixabay]