Skip to content

4 Strict and Strange New Rules You'll See at Restaurants

Some states are making restaurants and patrons jump through hoops to dine in.

As numbers of COVID-19 cases continue to fluctuate from state to state, regulations for reopenings of businesses vary from one local government to another.

When it comes to restaurants, which are still considered high-risk places for infection, safety requirements continue being updated for those that are resuming dine-in services.

Currently, dining in is allowed in most states. In some, like Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania, it depends on the county. And then there's California, which stands out as the only state that has reversed its reopening plans for restaurants, with dine-in services uniformly off the table across the whole state.

Below are some of the newest and most peculiar regulations states are imposing on restaurants that want to welcome diners back to their establishments.

Don't forget to sign up for our newsletter to get the latest restaurant news delivered straight to your inbox.


The AC Must Be Running While Doors and Windows Are Open

Florida's Miami-Dade County will resume dine-in services next week. Capacity limits are set at 50%, but there's another county-wide mandate that restaurants have to follow. All windows and doors are to remain open at all times, with the air conditioners running constantly. The reason behind this seemingly bizarre rule is the fact that coronavirus is airborne and more infectious in enclosed, poorly ventilated spaces. By increasing air circulation in dining rooms, patrons are less likely to infect each other.


Masks Must Be Worn at the Table

Waiter with protective medical mask and gloves serving guest with coffee at an outdoor bar café or restaurant new normal concept reopening after quarantine

The same county in Florida also has some pretty strict mask-wearing rules. Not only are patrons expected to wear masks in restaurants, but they can't remove them even once they're seated at the table, like in most states. Masks can come off only once something is served, like a glass of water. If you're dining in this part of Florida, keep in mind that disobeying this rule could set you back $500.


Masks Must Be Worn When Picking Up Takeout

A similar enforcement of stricter mask regulations is in place in Illinois. The Midwestern state is the first one to require that patrons keep their faces covered while interacting with restaurant staff in any capacity—whether placing their order at the table or picking up takeout. Governor Jay Pritzker noted that restaurants are expected to enforce this rule as much as patrons are expected to follow it.


Parties of Four or Less Only

Philadelphia's dining rooms are set to reopen on September 8. Not only will the occupancy be limited to 25% of total capacity, but restaurants will not be allowed to seat more than four people at a table. The measure is intended to discourage large groups from socializing, especially if they're from different households.

Mura Dominko
Mura is ETNT's Deputy News Editor, leading the coverage of America's favorite restaurant chains, grocery stores, and viral food moments. Read more about Mura
Filed Under