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Official requirements for Phase 2 and Phase 3 restaurant, tavern, breweries, wineries and distilleries reopening (as of Oct. 7, 2020) 

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(Note: This post has been updated to reflect the latest changes by the governor on Oct. 7.)

Washington state has released the official requirements for restaurants and taverns to reopen in-house dining. Restaurants and taverns can reopen according to the guidelines below during Phase 2 of the governor’s Safe Start Washington plan. If your county has been approved to move into Phase 2, you may reopen as soon as you can meet the requirements of the guidelines. If not, you can begin making preparations today.  

Official Requirements 

Phase 2: The restaurant/tavern/breweries/wineries or distillery must adopt a written procedure for dine-in service that is at least as strict as the Phase 2 procedure below and complies with all safety and health requirements. 

Procedure For Dine-In Service: 

Restaurant/tavern/brewery/winery or distillery must ensure strict adherence to all measures established by the Governor’s guidance, the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) Coronavirus (COVID-19) Prevention: General Requirements and Prevention Ideas for Workplaces, and the Washington State Department of Health Workplace and Employer Resources & Recommendations (DOH). All businesses are required to make their customers use cloth face coverings when interacting with their staff.  

For All Establishments: 

  • Hand sanitizer should be available at entry for all staff and patrons (assuming supply availability).  
  • All sales, service and consumption of alcohol, including beer, wine and spirits must end at 11 p.m. until Phase 4.  
  • Indoor service at taverns, breweries, wineries and distilleries is prohibited until Phase 4 unless certain food service is provided.  For more information, click here. 
  • All parties and tables must be six guests or fewer in Phase 2, and 8 guests or fewer in Phase 3.  
  • Guest occupancy must be 50% of maximum building occupancy or lower as determined by the fire code. Outdoor seating is permitted but must also be at 50% capacity. Outdoor seating does not count toward the building occupancy limit. Outdoor seating must follow all other requirements in this document.  
  • Tables and booths must be placed a minimum of 6 feet away from adjacent tables, or there must be a physical barrier or wall separating booths or tables.
  • No bar seating is permitted during Phases 2 or 3. This is the area with a bar table/counter where patrons sit or stand side-by-side. If an establishment has bar area seating it must be closed off to prohibit use. Counter-style seating is permitted in other areas of the establishment (indoors or outdoors). Six feet of distance is required between parties and other tables. 
  • If the establishment does not offer table service, they must have protocols in place to ensure adequate social distancing at food and drink pick-up stations and seating within their dining area.  
  • Customers must wear a cloth face-covering anytime they are not seated (while being seated or leaving, or while going to the restroom) and while they are talking at tables and not eating.  
  • For outdoor seating, a temporary structure may be used. Outdoor structures (temporary or permanent) should have no more than two walls to provide appropriate ventilation. The limitation on walls applies to both rigid and flexible walls. 
  • Single-use menus or reusable menus that can be sanitized after each use are required.  
  • Any condiments typically left on the table (ketchup, soy sauce, etc.) must be single-use or sanitized after each use.  
  • Minimize the number of staff serving any given table. It is strongly recommended that one staff person take a table’s order, bring all of their beverages/food/utensils, take their payment, etc.  
  • Vending and other game areas, including billiards, darts, and video games, are prohibited until Phase 4. 
  • All live entertainment is prohibited except performances outdoors for members of the same household where social distancing of a minimum of 10 feet is always maintained from the entertainer and facial coverings are worn by all individuals. “Live entertainment” refers to any activity in which an individual or individuals perform for an audience of an individual or individuals, where all are physically present. This prohibition applies without regard to the nature or location of the event, whether or not the performer receives compensation, and whether the performer is featured or in the background. 
  • All establishments must have implemented a plan to ensure proper physical distancing in lobby/waiting areas/payment counters. 
  • Standing is prohibited in any area of establishment, except for the lobby/waiting area and then must be done while maintaining 6 feet of distance between patrons. 
  • For liquor licensees who want to add outdoor seating to their premises, go to the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) website, to access the Liquor Alterations Request Form. Submit completed forms to liquoralterations@lcb.wa.gov 
  • [EFFECTIVE 5/15/20] Customers are no longer required to provide a business with contact information, and businesses should not condition service on a customer’s unwillingness to do so. Businesses are still obligated to maintain a customer log of those who voluntarily provide their information.  

For Restaurants: 

  • Guest occupancy at restaurants must be 50% of maximum building occupancy or lower as determined by the fire code. Outdoor seating is permitted but must also be at 50% capacity. Outdoor seating does not count toward the building occupancy limit. Outdoor seating must follow all other requirements in this document.  
  • All parties and tables must be limited to six guests or fewer in Phase 2, and eight guests or fewer in Phase 3.  
  • As of Oct. 6, 2020, indoor dining is no longer limited to members of the same household.  
  • For outdoor seating, a temporary structure may be used. Outdoor structures (temporary or permanent) should have no more than two walls to provide appropriate ventilation. The limitation on walls applies to both rigid and flexible walls.  
  • Any condiments typically left on the table (ketchup, soy sauce, etc.) must be single-use or sanitized after each use.  
  • Buffets and salad bars are permitted and must follow Department of Health guidance. 
  • Restaurants must have implemented a plan to ensure proper physical distancing in lobby/waiting areas/payment counters.  

For Taverns, Breweries, Wineries and Distilleries: 

  • Indoor service at taverns, breweries, wineries and distilleries is prohibited until Phase 4 unless certain food service is provided.  For more information, click here. 
  • Indoor seating is prohibited unless the establishment provides all of the following:  
  1. Provide a reasonable number of menu items such as: sandwiches, salad, soup, pizza, hamburgers, fry orders, or substantial hors d’oeuvres/appetizers. 
  2. These menu items must be prepared onsite and may not be offered by a contractor. 
  3. Obtain any required food service permit/license from their local jurisdiction  
  4. For outdoor seating, a temporary structure may be used. 
  • Outdoor structures (temporary or permanent) should have no more than two walls to provide appropriate ventilation. The limitation on walls applies to both rigid and flexible walls.  
  • Guest occupancy is limited to 50% capacity. All parties and tables must be limited to five guests or less. Indoor guests must be members of the same household. 

Employee safety and health 

The restaurant/tavern/brewery/winery and distillery operating during Phase 2 and Phase 3 has a general obligation to keep a safe and healthy facility in accordance with state and federal law, and comply with the following coronavirus worksite-specific safety practices, as outlined in Gov. Jay Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy Proclamation 20-25.4, and in accordance with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries General Requirements and Prevention Ideas for Workplaces and the Washington State Department of Health Workplace and Employer Resources & Recommendations at https://www.doh.wa.gov/Coronavirus/workplace. All businesses are required to post signage at the entrance to their business to strongly encourage their customers to use cloth face coverings when inside the business.  

Employers must specifically ensure operations follow the main L&I coronavirus requirements to protect workers, including:  

  • Educate workers in the language they understand best about coronavirus and how to prevent transmission and the employer’s coronavirus policies.  
  • Maintain minimum six-foot separation between all employees (and customers) in all interactions at all times. When strict physical distancing is not feasible for a specific task, other prevention measures are required, such as use of barriers, minimize staff or customers in narrow or enclosed areas, stagger breaks, and work shift starts.  
  • Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, goggles, face shields and face masks as appropriate or required to employees for the activity being performed. Cloth facial coverings must be worn by every employee not working alone on the job site unless their exposure dictates a higher level of protection under Department of Labor & Industries safety and health rules and guidance. Refer to Coronavirus Facial Covering and Mask Requirements for additional details. A cloth facial covering is described in the Department of Health guidance, https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/ClothFacemasks.pdf.  
  • Ensure frequent and adequate handwashing with adequate maintenance of supplies. Use disposable gloves where safe and applicable to prevent transmission on tools or other items that are shared.  
  • Establish a housekeeping schedule that includes frequent cleaning and sanitizing with a particular emphasis on commonly touched surfaces.   
  • Screen employees for signs/symptoms of coronavirus at start of shift. Make sure sick employees stay home or immediately go home if they feel or appear sick. Cordon off any areas where an employee with probable or confirmed coronavirus illness worked, touched surfaces, etc. until the area and equipment is cleaned and sanitized. Follow the cleaning guidelines set by the CDC to deep clean and sanitize.  

A site-specific COVID-19 Supervisor shall be designated by the employer at each job site to monitor the health of employees and enforce the COVID-19 job site safety plan.  

A worker may refuse to perform unsafe work, including hazards created by coronavirus. And, it is unlawful for their employer to take adverse action against a worker who has engaged in safety-protected activities under the law if their work refusal meets certain requirements.  

Employees who choose to remove themselves from a worksite because they do not believe it is safe to work because of the risk of coronavirus exposure may have access to certain leave or unemployment benefits. Employers must provide high-risk individuals covered by Proclamation 20-46 with their choice of access to available employer-granted accrued leave or unemployment benefits if an alternative work arrangement is not feasible. Other employees may have access to expanded family and medical leave included in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, access to use unemployment benefits, or access to other paid time off depending on the circumstances. Additional information is available at https://www.lni.wa.gov/agency/outreach/paid-sick-leave-and-coronavirus-covid-19-common-questions.  

No restaurant, tavern, brewery, winery or distillery may operate until it can meet and maintain all the requirements in this document, including providing materials, schedules and equipment required to comply. No reopening inspections are required prior to a restaurant reopening provided they meet and maintain all requirements in this document. All issues regarding worker safety and health are subject to enforcement action under L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH).  

  • Employers can request coronavirus prevention advice and help from L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH).