Going into what would be a long holiday weekend in any other year, California restaurants have new reopening guidance to consider as restrictions begin to loosen statewide.

This week California Gov. Gavin Newsom loosened the requirements for counties to reopen additional businesses, including dine-in restaurants, as part of Stage 2B of California’s resilience plan.  The Reliance Roadmap is found here and includes statewide industry guidance to reduce risk.  Under the updated guidelines, counties can broaden reopening moving forward if: (1) hospitalization and test positivity rates are stable or declining; (2) they have a significant level of preparedness with testing, contact tracing, PPE, and hospital surge; and (3) they have adequate plans related to county-wide containment.  The original statistical metrics set for each of these conditions have been slightly relaxed, allowing more counties to enter Stage2B, which includes reopening dine-in restaurants with certain precautions.

The lengthy set of procedures for dine-in service includes similar employee training, screening, cleaning, and social distancing measures to those recommended for other industries.  A full list is available here and a checklist is available here.  The industry-specific considerations include:

  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect high traffic areas
  • Avoid sharing PPE or other equipment (e.g. phones and headsets)
  • Equip spaces with sanitation products (e.g. hand sanitizer)
  • Provide disposable/digitally available menus
  • Suspend use of shared condiments
  • Discontinue tableside preparation
  • Properly dispose of all items used by customers

Given that the hospitality industry is service oriented and largely dependent on public interaction, this new standard will be particularly challenging. Restaurants must determine whether the additional expenses associated with complying with these restrictions (lower capacity in dining rooms, disposable menus, and serving ware) make it worth reopening dining areas at this stage.