CDC Issues Guidelines for Reopening Bars and Restaurants

The recommendations include extra spacing to encourage social distancing

New York City Continues To Idle During Coronavirus Shutdown
Closed signs hang on a fast food restaurant amid the coronavirus pandemic in New York City.
Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images
By Bonnie Stiernberg / May 15, 2020 10:22 am

With some states reopening earlier than others, bars and restaurants faced with the prospect of allowing customers to dine in for the first time since the lockdown began have been scrambling for some sort of guidance about how to do so without putting anyone at risk. On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) weighed in, offering up a set of guidelines for them to follow.

According to the guidelines, bars and restaurants shouldn’t reopen until they can follow all applicable state and local orders and protect people who are in the higher risk groups from contracting the virus. Once they meet those requirements, the CDC recommends adding spacing between tables and stools to encourage social distancing; encouraging customers to use drive-through, delivery and curbside pick-up options; avoiding any kind of self-serve stations; limiting party size and occupancy; and restricting employee shared spaces.

The CDC also says that employers should regularly check their staff for any signs and symptoms of COVID-19 when they arrive to work “as feasible.” They also say any employee who is feeling sick should be encouraged to stay home, and bar and restaurant owners should be ready to communicate with local health authorities if there are any cases of the virus in their facility.

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