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Ready to Dine Out? Here Are the New Restaurant Rules

May 18, 2020

It’s OK to dine out in Connecticut, effective May 20, as long as you dine outside.

The outdoor-only mandate for the state’s restaurants is part of Gov. Ned Lamont’s Phase 1 plan to reopen the state’s economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are some guidelines diners will notice:

  • Restaurants can operate only at 50 percent capacity.
  • Tables spaced at least 6 feet apart.
  • Hand sanitizer available at the entrance.
  • No reusable menus: Restaurants must provide paper menus or list menu items on a chalkboard or whiteboard.
  • No buffets.
  • Single-use condiment packets. No plastic squeeze-bottle dispensers.
  • Rolled or packaged silverware.
  • Indoor areas, including bar areas, must remain closed.
  • Employees must wear a facemask or other cloth covering.
  • Servers must wear gloves that are replaced frequently.
  • Social-distancing markers encouraging diners to remain 6 feet apart.
  • Touchless appliances, where possible: paper towel and soap dispensers, trash cans.
  • Contactless payment is encouraged.

Restaurant owners will be responsible for enforcing the 50 percent capacity limit, providing personal protection for employees and develop cleaning checklists that follow new state guidelines. To support contact tracing, restaurants also must maintain a log of employee hours and also stagger shifts, break times and lunch or dinner to minimize employee contact.

Food workers also must maintain social distancing in the kitchen, whenever possible. To help ensure kitchen-worker safety, restaurants must increase ventilation rates, and the amount of outdoor air, circulating into the HVAC system where possible.

To increase confidence in public safety, restaurants must complete self-certification through the state Department of Economic Community Development. Business owners can then post a Reopen CT badge in their workplace and on social media.

Employees and diners can report violations to the state hotline (dial 211).

These businesses also will be allowed to open May 20, with some restrictions:

  • Remaining retail offices (continue work from home where possible).
  • Museums, zoos (outdoor only).
  • Additional outdoor recreation (such as camping and mountain biking).
  • University research programs.

Barbershops and hair salons, originally part of the May 20 plan, will now open June 1, Lamont said, after hair stylists expressed concern about their childcare arrangements.

Lamont, who said 60 percent of the state’s economy has functioned during the pandemic, placed these conditions on the May 20 reopening:

  • 14-day decline of hospitalizations.
  • Increased testing available.
  • Sufficient contact-tracing capacity.
  • Adequate protection of high-risk populations.
  • Adequate healthcare capacity.
  • Adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Appropriate physical distancing regulations.

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