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Restaurant guidelines to protect customers, workers from COVID-19 released in preparation Phase 2 reopening

The document serves as a guideline for restaurants as they begin to reopen to customers.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — North Carolina is one step closer to entering Phase 2 of reopening.

Restaurants in North Carolina are already preparing to enter Phase 2 of reopening. The North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association shared a document with guidelines for Phase 2 reopening.

The document was released Tuesday night one day before North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper officially announced the state will enter Phase 2.

The document serves as a guideline for restaurants as they begin to reopen to customers.

The guidelines focus on the following:

  • Social Distancing and Minimizing Exposure
  • Cloth Face Coverings
  • Cleaning and Hygiene
  • Monitoring for Symptoms
  • Protecting Vulnerable Populations
  • Combatting Misinformation
  • Water and Ventilation Systems
  • Additional Resources


Restaurants are required to do the following to promote social distancing between staff and customers:

  • Arrange tables and seating to have at least six feet of space between customers both indoors and outdoors.
  • Customers sitting at counters should be spaced at least six feet apart.
  • No more than 50 percent of maximum occupancy will be allowed inside the building, or 12 people per 1,000 feet if the restaurant does not have a fire code number available. The number must be posted in a conspicuous place.
  • Post signage reminding customers and staff to social distance including Know Your W’s signs.
  • Mark six feet of spacing in lines in high-traffic areas, such as cash registers or waiting areas.

Restaurants are encouraged, but not required to do the following:

  • Allow no more than 6 people at a table, unless they are a family from the same household. You do not need to ask whether groups are a family. 
  • Don’t use shared tables among multiple parties unless the seats can be arranged to maintain social distancing between parties 
  • Require patrons to wait outside, with markings to ensure 6 feet apart, with floor markings and instructions for social distancing. 
  • Provide hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol) at the entrance when available. 
  • Provide education to employees on how to properly wear, remove, and wash or dispose of face coverings. 
  • Install physical barriers, such as sneeze guards and partitions at cash registers, or other food pickup areas where maintaining physical separation of 6 feet is difficult. 
  • Advise all waitstaff to stay 6 feet away from customers to the extent possible. 
  • Advise all employees to stay 6 feet away from each other to the extent possible.
  • Stagger seating times to the extent possible by using reservation systems or other methods; rotate or stagger shifts to limit the number of employees in the workplace at the same time.
  • Consider alternative options to gathering lots of people in a small area, such as having people wait in their cars and alerting them by phone when their table is ready.
  • Staff meetings should be held virtually or provided by written notes instead of congregating.
  • Reduce condiments and other items on the table for use between customers; provide condiments by request only; or provide disposable condiment packs.
  • Continue to provide take-out, curbside pickup, and delivery options.
  • Use rolled utensils and discontinue preset table settings.
  • Continue to offer contactless payment options, curbside pickup, and delivery; if possible, use phone app technology to alert patrons when their table is ready to avoid use of pagers or buzzers.
  • Use touchless payment options as much as possible. Ask customers and employees to exchange cash or card payments by placing on a receipt tray or on the counter rather than by hand. Wipe any pens, counters, or trays between use and between customers with a disinfecting wipe.
  • Designate an ordering area at bars when wait staff are not available to visit each table. The ordering area should be at least 6 feet from other patrons seated at bar.

Check out the full guidelines for restaurants under phase 2 of reopening.

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