New York officials released a number of new guidelines restaurants, bars and customers must follow, including customers wearing masks.

On Wednesday, in a somewhat surprising announcement, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that outdoor dining at restaurants will be allowed during Phase 2 of the four-phased reopening plans.

Later on Wednesday, the New York State Liquor Authority confirmed that any business with a valid liquor license can reopen in regions that have entered Phase 2 for outdoor service.

Outdoor tables must be placed at least six-feet apart and staff as well as customers must wear face coverings when not seated.Consumption of any food and drinks beverage must occur at outdoor tables or bar tops, officials say.

Below are guidelines restaurants, bars customers must follow in order to reopen, according to New York State Forward:

Physical Distancing

  • For the purposes of this guidance, “outdoor space” is defined as an open air space without a fixed roof (besides a temporary or seasonal awning or cover). Within such outdoor space, all tables with seats must be at least six feet from any other table, seat, patron, or pedestrian thoroughfare or corridor.
  • Responsible Parties must ensure an indoor capacity to accommodate patrons who may need to enter or exit through the indoor space to access the outdoor seating, restroom(s), or payment location and allow such access and egress in a socially distanced manner. o Responsible Parties should ensure that a distance of at least six feet is maintained among workers at all times, unless the core activity requires a shorter distance (e.g. cooking, cleaning, clearing tables, maintenance).
  • Regardless of physical distance, Responsible Parties must ensure all employees wear an acceptable face covering at all times. Patrons must also wear face coverings at all times, except while seated; provided, however, that the patron is over the age of two and able to medically tolerate such covering.
  • Acceptable face coverings for COVID-19 include but are not limited to cloth-based face coverings and disposable masks that cover both the mouth and nose. o However, cloth, disposable, or other homemade face coverings are not acceptable face coverings for workplace activities that typically require a higher degree of protection for personal protective equipment (PPE) due to the nature of the work. For those activities, N95 respirators or PPE used under existing industry standards should continue to be used, as is defined in accordance with OSHA guidelines.
  • Responsible Parties must ensure that outdoor capacity is limited to the number of tables that can be safely and appropriately arranged such that each table is a minimum of six feet away from another.
  • Responsible Parties must ensure that outdoor tables with seating for customers are separated by a minimum of six feet in all directions. Wherever distancing is not feasible between tables, Responsible Parties must enact physical barriers between such tables. The physical barriers must be at least five feet in height and must not block emergency and/or fire exits.
  • Responsible Parties may allow customers to sit at outdoor bar areas, provided a distance of at least six feet can be maintained between parties (i.e. groups of patrons). o Responsible Parties must ensure that bar area staff keep a distance of at least six feet between each other and/or customers, when possible. • Responsible Parties may seat as many individuals at a single table as the table allows, with a maximum of 10 individuals per table.
  • Individuals seated at a table must be members of the same party but may be from different households.
  • Communal tables in which multiple parties are seated at the same large table are only permitted if a distance of at least six feet can be maintained between the parties.
  • Responsible Parties must ensure indoor dining and seating areas are closed to customers and are not used.
  • Responsible Parties may offer restroom access to customers, provided that social distancing is promoted within and while waiting for restrooms.
  • Responsible Parties may modify the use and/or restrict the number of work stations and employee seating areas, so that employees are at least six feet apart in all directions (e.g. side-to-side and when facing one another) and are not sharing areas without cleaning and disinfection between use. When distancing is not feasible (e.g. pick-up stations, cash registers)
  • Responsible Parties may enact physical barriers (e.g. plastic shielding walls) in areas where they would not affect airflow
  • Responsible Parties must clearly signal six foot spacing in any lines for customers waiting to order, pick up food, be seated, or use the restroom (e.g. by using tape); and any pick-up or payment location (e.g. counter, table, register).
  • Responsible Parties must designate entrances/exits for customers and separate entrances/exits for employees, where possible.
  • Responsible Parties should encourage customers to wait in their car or outside at an appropriate social distance until food is ready to be picked up or they are ready to be seated.

Gatherings in Enclosed Spaces 

  • Responsible Parties must limit in-person gatherings (e.g. staff meetings) to the greatest extent possible and use other methods such as video or teleconferencing whenever possible
  • Responsible Parties should consider closing non-essential amenities and communal areas that promote gathering or are high-touch (e.g. vending machines, communal coffee machines).
  • Responsible Parties must put in place practices for adequate social distancing in small areas, such as restrooms and breakrooms, and should develop signage and systems (e.g. flagging when occupied) to restrict occupancy when social distancing cannot be maintained in such areas.
  • Responsible Parties operating food trucks should implement such practices to the extent practicable. • Responsible Parties should stagger schedules for their employees to observe social distancing (i.e. six feet of space) for any gathering (e.g. breaks, meals, shift starts/stops).

Movement and Commerce

  • Responsible Parties must establish designated areas for vendor pickups and/or deliveries, limiting contact to the extent possible.
  • Responsible Parties should limit on-site interactions (e.g. designate an egress for workers leaving their shifts and a separate ingress for workers starting their shifts) and movements (e.g. employees should remain near their workstations as often as possible).
  • Where practicable, responsible parties should limit the numbers of entrances in order to (1) manage the flow of traffic into the building and (2) facilitate health screenings, as described below while remaining in compliance with fire safety and other applicable regulations. •

Protective Equipment

  • In addition to the necessary PPE as required for certain workplace activities, businesses must procure, fashion, or otherwise obtain acceptable face coverings and provide such coverings to their employees while at work at no cost to the employee.
  • Responsible Parties should have an adequate supply of face coverings, masks and other required PPE on hand should an employee need a replacement or should a vendor be in need.
  • Responsible Parties must adhere to OSHA standards for such safety equipment. • Responsible Parties must allow their employees to use their own acceptable face coverings but cannot require their employees to supply their own face coverings. Further, this guidance shall not prevent employees from wearing their personally owned additional protective coverings
  • Responsible Parties must ensure that all staff wear face coverings at all times.
  • Responsible Parties must ensure staff practice hand hygiene and use bare hand barriers consistent with State and Local Sanitary Codes.
  • Responsible Parties should require customers to wear face coverings when not seated at a table (e.g. when waiting for pickup, placing order at counter or window, walking to/from table, walking to/from restroom).
  • Once seated, businesses should encourage, but not require customers to wear face coverings when not eating and/or drinking.


  • Responsible Parties must implement mandatory daily health screening practices of their employees and, where practicable, vendors, but such screening shall not be mandated for customers and delivery personnel.
  • At a minimum, screening should be required of all employees and vendors completed using a questionnaire that determines whether the employee or vendor has: (a) knowingly been in close or proximate contact in the past 14 days with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or who has or had symptoms of COVID-19; (b) tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days; and/or (c) has experienced any symptoms of COVID-19 in the past 14 days.
  • Responsible Parties cannot mandate that customers complete a health screen or provide contact information but may encourage customers to do so.
  • Responsible Parties may provide an option for customers to provide contact information so they can be logged and contacted for contact tracing, if necessary.

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