Restaurants allowed to reopen with strict limitations and guidelines

For first time since March 16, restaurants in Kentucky will be allowed to reopen to in-person dining.

There are multiple qualifiers and guidelines to eating establishments reopening, including allowing only 33 percent capacity and limiting groups of diners to 10 people.

Below is the executive order issued by Gov. Andy Beshear setting forth limitations and regulations on how restaurants may operate:

(For purposes of these requirements, a “restaurant” is an entity that stores, prepares, serves, vends food directly to the consumer or otherwise provides food for human consumption, and must hold a food service permit in good standing and has table seating.)

Restaurants that have provided food and beverage service via curbside, takeout, and delivery services should continue to do so, to the greatest extent practicable, in order to minimize the number of persons in the restaurant and contacts between them.  

  • Restaurants should provide services and conduct business via phone or Internet to the greatest extent practicable. Any restaurant employees who are currently able to perform their job duties via telework (e.g., accounting staff) should continue to telework.
  • Restaurants should limit party size to 10 people or fewer. Persons not living within the same household should not be permitted to sit at the same table.
  • Restaurants must limit the number of customers present in any given restaurant to 33 percent of the maximum permitted occupancy of seating capacity, assuming all individuals in the restaurant are able to maintain six feet of space between each other with that level of occupancy. This means no person can be within six feet of a person seated at another table or booth. If the restaurant is not able to maintain six feet of space between tables at 33 percent of capacity, the restaurant must limit the number of individuals in the restaurant to the greatest number that permits proper social distancing. Restaurants should consider installation of portable or permanent non-porous physical barriers (e.g., plexiglass shields) between tables.
  • Restaurants should maximize use of outdoor seating. Restaurants must be able to arrange seating so as to maintain six feet of space between seated customers. This means no person can be within six feet of a person seated at another table.
  • Restaurants should ensure social distancing by limiting customer movement through the restaurant to the greatest extent practicable. Restaurants should inform customers that they may travel to entries, exits, and the restroom, unless circumstances (e.g. healthy and safety) require otherwise. Restaurants should to the greatest extent practicable, modify the office’s traffic flow to minimize contacts.
  • If a restaurant has more customers wishing to enter their business than is possible under the current social distancing requirements of six feet between all individuals, the restaurant should establish a system for limiting entry and tracking occupancy numbers. Once a restaurant has reached its capacity, it should permit a new customer inside only after a previous customer has left the premises on a one-to-one basis. Restaurants experiencing lines or waits outside their doors should establish a safe means for customers to await entry, such as asking customers to remain in their car and notifying them via phone when they are able to enter the restaurant or de-marking spots six feet apart where customers can safely stand without congregating.
  • Restaurants should close children’s play areas.
  • Restaurants should update floor plans for common dining areas, redesigning seating arrangement to maximize the ability to social distance to the greatest extent practicable.
  • Restaurants should consider a reservations-only business model or call-ahead seating to better space households and individuals.
  • Restaurants should ensure employees wear face masks for any interactions with customers, co-workers, or while in common travel areas of the business (e.g., aisles, hallways, loading docks, break rooms, bathrooms, entries and exits). Restaurant employees are not required to wear face masks while alone in personal offices, while more than six feet from any other individual, or if doing so would pose a serious threat to their health or safety.
  • Restaurants should use disposable menus, napkins, tablecloths, disposable utensils, and condiments to the greatest extent practicable. Restaurants are encouraged to use electronic menus.
  • Restaurants should discontinue use of tablecloths and cloth napkins.
  • Restaurants should discontinue use of any self-service drink stations to the greatest extent practicable. Restaurants continuing self-service drink stations should remove any unwrapped or non-disposable items (e.g. straws or utensils), as well as fruit (e.g. lemons), sweeteners, creamers, and any condiment containers that are not in single- use, disposable packages.
  • Restaurants should discontinue use of salad bars and other buffet style dining to the greatest extent practicable. If a restaurant cannot discontinue buffet style dining, the restaurant must ensure that employees provide buffet service. Restaurants should not permit customer self-service. Restaurants providing buffet service should ensure appropriate sneeze guards are in-place and that employees are equipped with gloves and other PPE as appropriate.

By Ken Howlett, News Director

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