Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito announced industry guidelines and a checklist for all restaurants opening in Phase 2 of the state’s four-phase reopening plan on Friday. Restaurants are allowed to dine al fresco at the beginning of Phase 2, which cannot begin before June 8th. Indoor dining will follow in Phase 2 at an unspecified time, subject to public health data.
Restaurants must adhere to a checklist that includes social distancing, hygiene, staff and operations, and cleaning and disinfection. Here are some of the checklist guidelines restaurants must follow:
- The tables must be at least two meters away from all other tables and all high-traffic areas.
- The size of a group seated at a table cannot exceed six people.
- In restaurants, customers are not allowed to sit at the bar, but the bar areas can be reconfigured to allow table seating that complies with all other COVID-19 security requirements.
- Directional corridors and passageways must be set up for pedestrian traffic whenever possible to minimize contact.
- The working hours as well as the meal and break times of the staff should be staggered in order to regulate the maximum number of people in one place and to ensure a physical distance of at least two meters.
- Face covering for all customers and workers is required at all times, unless a person is unable to wear face covering due to illness or disability (clients can remove face covering while sitting at tables).
- Alcohol-based hand sanitisers with at least 60 percent alcohol should be provided at entrances, exits and in the dining area.
- Self-service, unattended buffets, topping bars, beverage stations and other common areas must remain closed.
- The menus must be one of the following: 1) paper menus, one-way menus that are discarded after each use, 2) displayed menus (e.g. digital, whiteboard, blackboard), 3) electronic menus that appear on customers’ phones / mobile devices are displayed;
- Utensils and place settings must be released either for single use or for disinfection after each use. Utensils should be rolled or wrapped. Tables should not be preset to reduce the possibility of exposure.
- If possible, reservations or seating should be recommended in advance. Managers must ensure that guests waiting for tables do not congregate or form lines in public areas.
- Restaurants are allowed to maximize outdoor dining areas, including patios and parking, subject to availability, subject to approval from the city.
A Restaurant, Hotel and Tourism Reopening Group within the original State Reopening Advisory Board was formed to assist in the creation of the checklist along with other industry guidelines.
“I just want to acknowledge the sacrifices so many people have made in the restaurant and hospitality industry since the fight against COVID-19 began,” said Polito. “Your restaurants and shops form the structure of our community and define our economy and our communities.”
Baker said the decision to resume eating outdoors before eating was made after public health officials issued instructions that eating outside would have better ventilation and allow restaurant staff to familiarize themselves with the new arrangement familiarize yourself with the tables at a distance of two meters. Baker also said that colleagues in other states who started eating outdoors initially gave positive feedback.
“And it’s spring,” he added.
Polito said the administration is working with its partners in the legislature to streamline the local outdoor dining permitting process.
Restaurants must also adhere to general government business requirements, including submitting a COVID-19 control plan template and displaying a compliance confirmation poster visible to workers and visitors, as well as displaying additional employer and employee posters.
Some members of the restaurant industry have struggled with the lack of an official opening date for indoor restaurants.
“We are excited to begin our reopening process and we certainly understand the need to continue to have good data,” said Bob Luz, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, in a press release. “Regulations, standards, and suggested next steps are welcomed, but what Massachusetts restaurateurs need is a set opening date. The Massachusetts food and beverage industry is the second largest private employer and has been closed for more than 75 days. Food restaurateurs need time to work with suppliers to replenish perishable inventory, staff need to be notified of return to work, and enough time to do other due diligence to ensure restaurants can open effectively. “
Read the full checklist here:
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