Special Report

Restaurant Reopening Restrictions in Every State

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> Mask mandate No (required in some municipalities)
> Indoor seating capacity: Not specified
> Maximum guests per table: Not specified

Despite the fact that he recovered from COVID-19 himself this summer, Gov. Kevin Stitt has resisted issuing a statewide mask mandate, though he has asked state residents to wear face coverings. (Some cities, including Tulsa, have mandates of their own.) Effective Nov. 19, Stitt imposed an 11 p.m. curfew on bars and restaurants but declined to consider limiting capacity. Interestingly, Oklahoma is the only state that asks restaurants to limit the use of high-risk staff members, meaning those who are immunocompromised or over the age of 65. Guidelines also instruct operators to “Cross-train personnel to perform essential functions so that the workplace is able to operate even if key staff members are absent.”

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> Mask mandate Yes
> Indoor seating capacity: 0-50%
> Maximum guests per table: 10

Gov. Kate Brown issued a temporary freeze order closing all restaurants for both indoor and outdoor service for a two-week period from Nov. 18 through Dec. 2. On Dec. 2, outdoor dining resumed, but indoor dining opened based on county-by-county risk level. Those at lowest risk may serve indoors to a capacity of 50%. Those at moderate risk are limited to 50% or 100 people total, whichever is less. High risk counties must limit occupancy to 25% or 50 people, whichever is less, and in those subject to extreme risk, no indoor dining is permitted. Masks are required, with some exceptions, for anyone 5 years of age or older.

> Mask mandate Yes
> Indoor seating capacity: No indoor dining
> Maximum guests per table: Not applicable

Adding restrictions to a mask order that had been in effect as of July 1, Pennsylvania’s health secretary, Rachel Levine, issued an order on Nov. 18 requiring face coverings for those “Indoors or in an enclosed space, where another person or persons who are not members of the individual’s household are present in the same space, irrespective of physical distance.” The order also requires masks outdoors when physical distancing is difficult. Gov. Tom Wolf subsequently issued a “limited-time mitigation” order, effective from Dec. 12 through Jan. 4, prohibiting all indoor dining.

Rhode Island
> Mask mandate Yes
> Indoor seating capacity: 50%
> Maximum guests per table: Unspecified as long as all are members of the same household

Masks have been mandatory in public spaces in the state since May 8 for anyone over the age of 2. Only members of the same household may be seated at indoor restaurant tables. Members of up to two households may sit together outside, as long as the total number of diners doesn’t exceed eight. The state imposed a curfew on bars and restaurants, effective Nov. 8, requiring them to close by 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

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South Carolina
> Mask mandate No (required in some municipalities)
> Indoor seating capacity: 100% (with some restrictions)
> Maximum guests per table: 8

A statewide mask mandate would be unenforceable, according to Gov. Henry McMaster, but some nine counties and 55 municipalities (including Charleston and the capital city of Columbia) have instituted mandates of their own. The South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism has collaborated with the state’s Restaurant and Lodging Association to establish a voluntary program called Palmetto Priority. According to its website, “Restaurants that choose to participate in the program will complete a checklist of operational assurances as outlined in the restaurant reopening guidelines, participate in required free online education, and participate in a DHEC [Department of Health and Environmental Control] limited-scope food safety inspection.”

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