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Restaurants reopen around the region: Here’s what they’re doing to keep customers, employees safe

On Thursday, restaurants in the Finger Lakes, Central New York, and Southern Tier were given the green light to enter ‘Phase 3’ of economic reopening.

Governor Andrew Cuomo made the announcement during his daily press briefing on Thursday.

The following guidelines have been issued for restaurants as they navigate reopening:

  • Limit indoor capacity to no more than 50% of maximum occupancy, exclusive of employees;
  • Limit outdoor capacity to the number of tables that can be safely and appropriately arranged, such that each table is a minimum of 6 ft. away from another;
  • All indoor and outdoor tables with seating for customers must be separated by a minimum of 6 ft. in all directions. Wherever distancing is not feasible between tables, physical barriers must be enacted between such tables. Barriers must be at least 5 ft. in height and not block emergency and/or fire exits;
  • Regardless of physical distance, employees must wear an acceptable face covering at all times;
  • Patrons must wear face coverings at all times, except while seated; provided that the patron is over the age of 2 and able to medically tolerate such covering;

  • Individuals seated at the same table must be members of the same party (but may be from different households), with a maximum of 10 people per table;
  • Seating in bar areas and communal tables are only permitted if at least 6 ft. can be maintained between parties;
  • Clearly signal 6 ft. spacing in any lines for customers waiting to order, pick-up food, be seated or use the restroom, as well as in any pick-up or payment location;
  • Designate entrances/exits for customers and separate entrances/exits for employees, where possible;
  • Limit in-person gatherings (e.g. staff meetings) to the greatest extent possible;
  • Establish designated areas for vendor pickups and/or deliveries, limiting contact to the extent possible; and
  • Employees must wear face masks at all times.

The guidance suggests that group gatherings of more than 10 people will still not be modified or changed. Some have wondered if New York would relinquish some of those guidelines.