coronavirus restaurant opening
Rogan Macdonald/Cultura via Getty Images

Social Distancing to Continue As Restaurants Reopen After Coronavirus, New Guidelines Say

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Social distancing will change the restaurant experience
coronavirus restaurant opening
Rogan Macdonald/Cultura via Getty Images

Many of us are likely looking forward to a time when it’s safe to enjoy bottomless drinks at brunch or arrabbiata penne over a glass of wine at your favorite Italian joint, but going out to eat moving forward might look a little different from what we were used to pre-coronavirus. According to a new set of guidelines from the National Restaurant Association, it’s best we continue social distancing to protect ourselves and those around us.

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Before businesses reopen, the NRA advises that they post signage at the entrance stating that no one with a fever or symptoms of COVID-19 can enter the restaurant. Floor plans should be updated to redesign seating arrangements, ensuring at least 6 feet of separation between table setups.

Here’s another issue: the waiting area. Restaurant operators should create a process so guests can stay separated while they wait for a table instead of congregating in one place. This can include floor markings, outdoor distancing or waiting in cars.

There will likely also be a maximum party size recommended per the CDC or mandated by local or state government. Restaurants might consider a reservations-only or call-ahead seating model to better control the flow and timing of customers arriving.

Interaction between guests and employees should be minimal. Physical barriers are advised where appropriate, like partitions between booths or Plexiglas at registers. We could also see more technology including mobile ordering, menu tablets, texts on arrival for seating and contactless payment as well as an exit separate from the entrance. 

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