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New Guidelines to Open Dine-In Restaurants in California

California Governor, Gavin Newsome, announced on Tuesday, new guidelines for restaurants to resume dine in service. While the guidelines will dramatically change the way establishments operated before Covid-19, the news was generally well received by those in the foodservice industry. Restaurants must abide by the restrictions in the State’s 12-page guideline, otherwise risk being shut down again.

Employers are now responsible for training their staff regarding Covid-19, instructions on self screening and ways to prevent spreading the virus. A set of rules must be visually displayed for customers and employees at the entrance. They could include the proper way to use hand sanitizer, reminders to maintain physical distance from other customers and information about restrictions. Diners will also be asked to bring face coverings into restaurants and must use them when not eating or drinking.

The physical distancing guideline of maintaining 6 feet distance from every table should be enforced. This also goes for employee break rooms and restaurant kitchens as well. Restaurants may need to reconfigure both the backend and frontend floor plans to accommodate these distancing guidelines. In addition, guests are to wait inside their cars or away from the restaurant until their tables are ready to be seated.

Table service will also look quite different from what diners are used to. Guests will most likely be seated at an empty table missing dinnerware, glassware and condiments. These items will only be available after the customers are seated. Restaurants are encouraged to provide digital menus so diners can read them on their own devices. Self service areas such as buffets, salad bars and soda machines will remain closed. When the meal is finished, customers will need to pack their own food into takeout containers.

Without saying, restaurants are requested to abide by the state’s guideline regarding sanitation. In fact, don’t be surprised to see some sort of disinfecting going on at all times. Frequently touched areas such as door handles, credit card terminals, serving trays and water pitchers should be disinfected often. Include extra time between reservations to allow thorough cleaning of tables and chairs. And restaurants that have windows should keep them open for fresh air to circulate.

However, before we begin letting diners into our restaurants, keep in mind that the guidelines also require that counties have no more than one new COVID-19 case per 10,000 residents and no COVID-19 deaths in the past 14 days. To find out more about the new guidelines, visit


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