[Editor's note: Last updated 11/13/20]
It’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 Nov. 20, several counties will move to level red (severe risk) on the state dial in response to rapid and widespread COVID-19 transmission. Level red counties will see indoor dining closed (except for outdoor and takeout).
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 whyy.org and Delaware Health and Social Services, effective Novemner 23, Governor Carney ordered the indoor service at restaurants cut from 60% of fire capacity to 30%, with allowances for additional outdoor seating.
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.
According to the Department of Emergency Management in Oahu, customers must wear face coverings at all times within the restaurant facility, except when eating or drinking. Group dining is limited to a maximum of five (5) individuals per group; seating shall be arranged so that six (6) feet of separation is maintained between dining groups. No standing bar/dining areas are allowed. Groups within the restaurant are prohibited from intermingling.
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.
According to WBEZ Illinois’ governor modified the reopening plan on July 15 by introducing mitigation tiers that the state could implement to prevent a surge in COVID-19 infections (all depending on the metrics in the specific region of Illinois.)
All businesses must maintain social distancing measures and provide a minimum of 6-feet between tables or other designated patron service areas. Restaurants can seat no more than 10 people together in one group and booths may be seated within 6-feet if an impermeable barrier is in place. Additionally, buffets and self-service food stations are allowed, with queue points of 6-feet apart; there are specific regulations for outdoor dining in the winter as well, including ensuring any temporary outdoor structures that hold multiple parties have at least 50% of the sides open to allow air flow.
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.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and MassLive.com, the number of people allowed per table has recently increased from six to 10 and is now allowing establishments to use bar seating for food service. The order states that indoor gatherings should not exceed more than eight people per 1,000 square feet. The order pertains to both public and private property. Face coverings are required when 10 or more people from different households attend a gathering. Six feet of separation is also required.
Outdoor gatherings should not exceed 25% of the permitted occupancy of the facility or space documented on the occupancy permit on record. When no occupancy limitation exists, the order says, there should be no more than eight people per 1,000 square feet.
According to Department of Health and Human Services director Robert Gordon and Eater, a new epidemic was issued to order tightening restrictions on indoor activities in an effort to curtail a worrying rise in COVID-19 cases, outbreaks, hospitalizations, and deaths in Michigan. Effective at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, November 18, restaurants and bars must close dining rooms. Socially-distanced outdoor seating, takeout, and delivery are still permitted under a Sunday, November 15 MDHHS order.
According to Minnesota's Industry Health Guidelines, from Friday, Nov. 20, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. through Friday, Dec. 18: The following establishments must stop all food and beverage service for all onsite consumption,whether it is indoors or outdoors: restaurants, food courts, cafes, coffeehouses, bars, taverns, brewer taprooms, microdistiller cocktail rooms, farm wineries, craft wineries, cideries, golf courses and clubs, dining clubs, and other places of Public Accommodation that offer food and beverages for onsite consumption.
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.
According to Riverfront Times, St. Louis and St. Louis County are imposing new restrictions as COVID-19 hospitalizations surge to record highs. The county is temporarily banning in-person drinking in bars and eating in restaurants while limiting private gatherings to ten people.
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.
According to NYC Restaurant Reopening Guide, the “Open Restaurants” program that allows for outdoor seating in front of their establishment on the sidewalk and/or roadway hsa become permanent. All outdoor tables will be separated by a minimum of six feet in all directions, and communal tables are only allowed if diners can remain six feet apart. Indoor dining must be kept at 25% capacity. Temperature checks will be required at the door for all customers
One member of each party will be required to provide contact information for tracing if needed
No bar service - bars will only be used as service bars, a source of making drinks and serving them tableside Masks must be worn at all times when not seated at a table Tables must be six feet apart. Restaurants close at midnight.
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:
According to Oregon Government, from November 18 to December 2, Oregon will be in a statewide Two-Week Freeze to stop the rapid spread of COVID-19 across Oregon. These risk reduction measures are critical in limiting the spread of COVID-19, reducing risk in communities more vulnerable to serious illness and death, and helping conserve hospital capacity so that all Oregonians can continue to have access to quality care.
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, Stay Safe-Stay Healthy, these requirements are effective November 17, 2020 through December 14, 2020: • Restaurants and Bars are closed for indoor dine-in service. • Outdoor dining and to-go service are permitted, provided that all outdoor dining must comply with the requirements of the Outdoor Dining Guidance. • Table size for outdoor dining is limited to a maximum of five (5) people. • These modified restaurant and bar restrictions go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, November 18, 2020. • These restrictions apply state-wide regardless of county phase.
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]