California restaurants can soon reopen for dine-in customers as part of a phased relaxing of shutdown restrictions

California restaurants can soon reopen for dine-in customers as part of a phased relaxing of shutdown restrictions
Travis Medlock, owner of Little Shop of Ramen, looks over a row of empty stools inside his restaurant along Highway 140 in the heart of Mariposa on April 29, 2020Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced guidelines for some restaurants to start serving dine-in customers as part of modifications to the statewide stay-at-home order.
  • To do so, restaurants will need to safeguard their dining room accordingly, such as spacing guests 6 feet apart and providing disposable menus. A reopening date was not announced yet.
  • The news comes as businesses in the US continue to feel the weight of the economic fallout ushered in by the coronavirus-driven shutdown.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

On Tuesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom laid the groundwork for reopening more businesses in the state as part of a series of modifications to the stay-at-home order.

That includes dine-in restaurants. Restaurants have been able to offer takeout to customers, and "should continue to encourage takeout and delivery whenever possible" as well as outdoor seating, according to a document published on the state's website. But restaurants will soon be able to serve sit-down customers, as long as they follow certain guidelines:

  • Guests should be spaced six feet apart.
  • Customers should wear masks when they're not eating.
  • Menus should be disposable to minimize contact from customer to customer.
  • Bar areas must remain closed to customers.
  • Dining areas should be thoroughly disinfected after each customer.
  • Windows and doors should remain open to increase air circulation.
  • Communal condiments like salt and pepper shakers should be replaced with single-serving packets.

The guidelines also advise that "guests and visitors should be screened for symptoms upon arrival." Restaurants should also 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. Licensed restaurants can continue selling to-go alcoholic beverages.

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The framework offers guidance for not only dine-in restaurants, but also brewpubs, craft distilleries, and wineries to "support a safe, clean environment for workers and customers."

The governor did not attach a concrete date to the reopening, but he said it would be slowly phased in, with the least-affected counties going first, according to Eater.


Office reopening guidelines were also included for workers who cannot work remotely. The plan does not include larger events, such as concerts or other mass gatherings held at entertainment venues.

The news comes as shutdowns remain in place, with small businesses across the US struggling amid the economic fallout and thousands of hospitality workers laid off. State leaders and public health officials are weighing how best to contain the disease while also saving businesses from going under.

California took early action in response to the coronavirus disease, implementing a statewide stay-at-home order on March 19, just two days after the San Francisco Bay Area began sheltering in place. County shutdowns vary throughout the state — the San Francisco Bay Area order is currently slated to last through at least May, while Los Angeles County will likely remain under an order through July.

Counties also have the freedom to take slightly different approaches to relaxing of shutdown restrictions — they can decide for themselves if they'd like to wait longer before reopening businesses, for example.

Other parts of the country, such as Georgia and South Carolina, also enforced stay-at-home orders but started reopening businesses in late April. In order to reopen safely, epidemiologists say states must see a steady 14-day decline in confirmed cases, a feat that Georgia did not show before reopening as Business Insider's Jessica Snouwaert reported.


Reopening state economies too soon could cause a devastating second wave of the disease. And even if restaurants will legally be allowed to reopen for dine-in customers, some guests may not feel comfortable doing so just yet.

Read the original article on Business Insider