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5 Red Flags Your Favorite Restaurant Is Violating Coronavirus Restrictions

Watch out for these signs, even at the places you frequent the most.

It can be exciting to see your favorite restaurant or bar opening its doors to dine-in customers again after months of stay-at-home orders. But the coronavirus threat is still out there, and although many eateries are adhering to new safety guidelines, some are getting citations from local health officials.

Here are some ways restaurants across the country have violated compliance so you can be on the lookout in order to keep yourself and others safe.


There are employees not wearing masks.

mask before eating

Seven restaurants were cited recently by Nashville Public Health Officials for having an employee without a mask on. They include a Smoothie King, Sonic, Papa John's, Subway, and more.

"We're not interested in just being punitive and issuing citations," Hugh Atkins, the environmental health services director of Nashville's Metro Public Health Department told the Tennessean. "We want them in compliance."

Related: 5 Tips for Wearing a Mask in a Restaurant


Too many people in groups.

eating small group

Restaurant customers in South Florida have reported places for not following the rule to only allow small groups. This restaurant violation is one that easily can be avoided by ordering takeout!

"We've gotten phone calls and seen social media messages of local residents who are constantly complaining of people not wearing masks or too many people in groups," Rebecca Medina Stewart, the Deerfield Beach city spokeswoman, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "Our code supervisors tell me they were getting excellent compliance through our warning and outreach process."

Also, in order to have a stress-free dining experience, avoid these mistakes other customers hate.


There are customers seated at the bar.

sitting in bar

The bar is, of course, one of the main attractions at a bar. But this seating option makes it virtually impossible to be six feet away from people. Restaurants have paid the price for allowing this — Kid Rock's honky tonk in Nashville was issued a citation. They will receive a fine amount to be determined. But the penalty is $1,000 for the first offense a place makes.

Related: These Popular Bars Have Been Tied to Coronavirus Outbreaks


Exceeded capacity level.

crowded bar

If there's a ton of people seated outside, or inside, that probably means the place is not obeying to reduced capacity orders.

Alaska, Idaho, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and other states don't have capacity limits but do have social distancing measures recommended, according to Eater.


Not following social distancing.

busy restaurant

If a place looks like it's allowing in more people than it should be, it's safe to assume people aren't staying a safe distance away from each other. Several Nashville eateries also violated Order 6, which states that dance floors can't be in use. This restaurant violation does allow for tables to be placed on the dance floor, though.

Here are 7 Unsuspecting Things You Touch at a Restaurant That Can Transmit Coronavirus so your next trip out to eat can be a safer one.

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.
Amanda McDonald
Amanda has a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a bachelor's degree in digital journalism from Loyola University Chicago. Read more about Amanda
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