When Can Restaurants Reopen?


While takeout and delivery are available pretty much everywhere, the rules for indoor and outdoor dining are different everywhere. More frustratingly, they are subject to frequent change as the pandemic situation evolves. With vaccinations off to a slow start, a definitive reopening and complete return to normal is still off in the distant horizon.

In the meantime, we’ve compiled some a snapshot to help you understand the situation in every state plus DC and Puerto Rico. How to use the guide:

  • “L” means that the situation varies widely by local rules at the city or county level.
  • Even states where indoor / outdoor dining is open (“Y”) may have rules regarding social distancing, for example 6 foot distance between tables and maximum number of guests per table. States marked as open (“Y”) may also have varying local restrictions.
  • There may be further restrictions on hours of operation. See our guide to curfews for more details.
  • Information may be out of date (though if you find an error, please email us). Refer to official announcements for most exact and up-to-date guidelines.
StateIndoor DiningOutdoor DiningMask MandateState GuidanceLast Updated
ArizonaY, 50% capacityYNLink2/12/2021
ArkansasY, 66% capacityYYLink2/12/2021
ColoradoY, 50% capacityYYLink2/12/2021
ConnecticutY, 50% capacityYYLink2/12/2021
DelawareY, 30% capacityYYLink2/12/2021
DCY, 25% capacityYYLink2/12/2021
HawaiiY, 50% capacityYYLink2/12/2021
IllinoisY, 25% capacityYYLink2/12/2021
KentuckyY, 50% capacityYYLink2/12/2021
LouisianaY, 50% capacityYYLink2/12/2021
MarylandY, 50% capacityYYLink2/12/2021
MassachusettsY, 40% capacityYYLink2/12/2021
MichiganY, 50% capacityYYLink2/12/2021
MinnesotaY, 50% capacityY, 50% capacityYLink2/12/2021
MississippiY, 75% capacityYNLink2/12/2021
NevadaY, 25% capacity35% starting Feb 15YYLink2/12/2021
New HampshireYYYLink2/12/2021
New JerseyY, 35% capacityYYLink2/12/2021
New MexicoLLYLink2/12/2021
New YorkY, 50% capacity
25% in NYC
North CarolinaY, 50% capacityY, 50% capacityYLink2/12/2021
North DakotaY, 80% capacityYNLink2/12/2021
PennsylvaniaY, 25%-50% capacityYYLink2/12/2021
Puerto RicoY, 30% capacityYYLink2/12/2021
Rhode IslandY, 50% capacityYYLink2/12/2021
South CarolinaYYNLink2/12/2021
South DakotaYYNLink2/12/2021
TexasY, 50%-75% capacityYYLink2/12/2021
VermontY, 50% capacityYYLink2/12/2021
25% starting Feb 15
West VirginiaY, 50% capacityYYLink2/12/2021

When can restaurants reopen in California?

Indoor DiningNot allowedSee zone map for exceptions
Outdoor DiningAllowedSubject to local regulations and capacity restrictions

Covid-19 struck California especially hard towards the end of 2020, which led the governor to issue a regional stay-at-home orders. While takeout and delivery was never banned, all in-person dining was paused in affected regions.

The order was recently lifted, which means that many localities are reopening outdoor dining, including San Francisco and Los Angeles. Cities are expected to have additional capacity restrictions (many at 50%) and other requirements to ensure the safety of diners.

In addition, California has lifted the 10pm – 5am curfew that was in effect during the stay-at-home emergency, though San Francisco will continue to enforce it.

California’s Covid-19 situation (post stay-at-home order) is summarized using a color-coded system, where the most severe tier (purple) means only outdoor dining is allowed. Currently almost the entire state is in the purple zone.

When can restaurants reopen in Texas?

Texas has kept in-person dining available throughout the end of 2020 and into 2021. There is a statewide 75% capacity limitation on indoor capacity dining, with an automatic trigger that lowers capacity to 50% if hospitalization rates exceed 15%. This was recently triggered in the Austin area and is also in effect in other cities including Dallas and Houston.

Adding to the confusion has been conflicting directives between local and state authorities. Austin has a 5-stage classification for pandemic severity, and at stage 5 it has recommended bars and restaurants to shut down indoor dining and limit outdoor dining to 50%, and ending service at 10pm. However these are contradicted by orders from the state, which has led to lawsuits being filed, further muddying the picture.

What about New York?

New York was an early epicenter of the Covid pandemic in Spring 2020. While it brought the virus mostly under control through the summer, by the fall it had surged again and the state took action to slow the spread.

Indoor dining in NYC restaurants has recently reopened at 25% capacity.

Across the rest of the state, the rules around indoor dining are tied to the state’s color-coded microcluster strategy. Originally the policy only allowed indoor dining in yellow zone areas, but following recent lawsuits the state is planning to expand indoor dining to orange zones as well. All in-door dining is limited to 50% capacity.

And Florida

Florida has one of the most permissive regimes for restaurant operation during the pandemic. Since September, the state has allowed operation at pre-pandemic levels without capacity restrictions. Localities are allowed to impose additional restrictions with formal public health justifications, though the state requires that indoor dining capacity cannot be dropped below 50%. Miami is one of the cities that have imposed an additional 50% capacity restriction.

By June Terrance
Originally Published on: bensen.ai


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