As we creek and crawl towards restarting the economy, you may be wondering which U.S. cities and states have begun allowing restaurants and bars to reopen, especially if you plan on visiting one of them. Many eateries have already opened, despite alarming new spikes in COVID-19 cases, mainly in states (Florida, Texas, Oklahoma) that followed the Trump administration’s messaging to open early and not wear masks (practices that were largely condemned by the medical community).
Presidential incompetence aside, a large number of restaurants are now open for outdoor dining, in some capacity, but each city is on its own specific timeline for opening fully and for indoor dining. Bars, which are seen as potentially more serious vectors and less essential, are on their own trajectory for opening in most states. City’s and states are mostly following an incremental phasing-in of non-essential businesses. Below is a list of the latest for bar and restaurant reopenings in major U.S. cities.
*Keep in mind that no matter which city you are in, practicing careful social distancing is either required or strongly encouraged by local officials; that includes mask-wearing, hand-washing, and keeping six feet apart at all times. Check back as we will continue to update this post as restrictions change.
Austin has reopened restaurants and bars (with restrictions) for business but simultaneously seeing its highest numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Restaurants are open under the same restrictions as Dallas (and all of Texas). According to the Austin Statesman, “The rules lift the requirement for an on-site kitchen and let bars count the sales from prepackaged food and food trucks as food revenue. The idea is to help bars raise their total revenue from food above 51 percent, which is the threshold needed to qualify for a food and beverage permit.”
At the behest of Governor, Brian Kemp, Georgia was one of the first states hell-bent on reopening. They, of course, paid the price with an immediate spike in COVID-19 infections and deaths and many cities began closing down again. Now, with cases plateauing, again most bars and restaurants are open. On August 31, Kemp issued his latest Executive Order. “Beginning at midnight August 31 and ending at 11:59 p.m. September 15, restaurants and dining services that choose to open must mitigate the exposure of COVID-19 to customers and workforce using precautions listed in the Order. Banquet facilities, private event facilities, and private reception venues where food is served must adhere to the same measures as restaurants and dining services.”
Boston restaurants may once again offer indoor dining but Governor Charlie Baker’s recent executive order heavily restricts bars from opening without food. According to the Boston Globe, “alcoholic beverages can only be served at restaurants if accompanied by food prepared on-site. Prepared food does not include potato chips, pretzels, and other pre-packaged or manufactured food. For customers, an item of food must be ordered at the same time as an alcoholic beverage. Shared items may be ordered as long as they sufficiently serve the number of people at the table.”
Chicago bars and restaurants officially reopened yesterday, according to The Chicago Tribune. “Though restaurants and bars across Chicago have been able to open for outdoor business for two weeks, Mayor Lori Lightfoot had excluded bars and brewery taprooms that didn’t have outdoor seating and a license to sell food.” That is until this week. Social distancing guidelines still apply.
The state is slowly reopening restaurants and bars for business but simultaneously seeing its highest numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, according to the Dallas Observer, so don’t be surprised if the mayor shifts gears in the coming days or weeks. According to the Observer, “Bars across the state are allowed to welcome customers at 50 percent capacity indoors and full capacity outdoors. Restaurants can have up to 75 percent of their dining rooms full while adhering to social distancing norms.”
According to Westword, “Restaurants across Colorado can now reopen for on-premises dining, with stringent safety guidelines. Although the okay was given on May 27, many eateries are taking their time determining the best way to follow the rules before opening their doors. Among other things, the state stipulates that restaurants must be limited to 50 percent capacity or fifty customers, whichever is lower; tables be at least six feet apart, and all restaurant workers wear masks at all times. In Denver, customers need to wear masks to their tables, and when they leave them. Otherwise, the city’s rules correspond with the state’s guidelines.”
As Eater reported, Michigan, which largely bucked the Trump administration advice in dealing with the pandemic, has done quite well and reopened for full-service dining and bar service on June 8. Detroit has not seen a spike in cases (quite the opposite, actually) in the wake of reopening bars and restaurants.
Though many restaurants in Houston have closed permanently due to the pandemic, according to the Houston Chronicle, many Houston area restaurants are back open, though there are some guidelines in place as well as a protocol should an employee test positive for COVID-19. Texas is spiking in cases, however, so this could very well change and fast.
Tourist-dependent Las Vegas opened it’s restaurants and casinos on June 4, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Dining restrictions and guidelines apply.
Restaurants in Louisville opened five weeks ago and, according to the Courier-Journal, last week Kentucky governor Andy Beshear announced that “Restaurants and retail businesses currently operating with 33 percent capacity will be able to increase capacity to 50 percent later this month.” Regardless of the capacity, the six-feet distancing rule is in effect indefinitely.
Per the AP today, California will mandate residents wear masks in most indoor settings and outdoor setting where social distancing isn’t possible. According to the Los Angeles Times, California has been “aggressively reopening businesses in recent weeks, with health officials saying social distancing and other safety rules are essential in preventing the further spread of the coronavirus. New cases continue to increase in California, but health officials say that’s because of more testing and not community spread from reopened businesses. On Monday, health officials in both San Diego and Los Angeles County expressed alarm that protocols were not being followed. Meanwhile, Laguna Beach officials took action aimed at encouraging social distancing in its business district.”
Florida has seemed uninterested in enforcing lockdown or coronavirus protection guidelines during while the pandemic spread, and now they are seeing late rolling spikes of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. As of a few weeks ago, the state’s restaurants are open for business but keep an eye out as the numbers continue to rise in Florida.
Nashville remains in phase two of reopening and plans to stay there for now based on a 14-day rolling spike in average COVID-19 cases, according to FOX17 Nashville. Phase two allows “restaurants and bars that serve food and retailers to increase their capacity limits to 3/4 instead of half. Bar seating is still not allowed and tables should be six feet away. Lower Broadway will again come alive with music as live entertainment is allowed as long as there is a minimum of 15 feet of space between performers and audiences. Dance floors remain closed.
Restaurants in New Orleans have been open for a few weeks, and just this week the city is beginning to allow bars to open at 25 percent capacity, according to MyNewOrleans.
According to the New York Times, New Yorkers may be able to dine outdoors and visit a barbershop as early as next week. It appears adhering to the lockdown has paid off, for now.
“New York City is ‘on track’ to enter Phase two of the state’s four-phase reopening plan on Monday,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said at his daily news briefing on Wednesday. Phase two eases several restrictions meant to help slow the coronavirus outbreak: It allows outdoor dining at restaurants and bars, and some in-store shopping. Hair salons, barbershops, and some offices can also reopen if they enforce social-distancing rules. Mr. Cuomo emphasized the need for New Yorkers to continue to wear masks and maintain social distancing to prevent a spike in new coronavirus infections.”
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Unlike some cities that are seeing positive cases fall, Arizona’s cases are on the rise, and many restaurants have now closed in-house dining as a result. According to the Phoenix New Times, “Though many restaurant owners have made it apparent they will not be reopening until case numbers see a decline, others in metropolitan Phoenix have reopened with an abundance of safety precautions.”
Outdoor dining only with strict distancing guidelines began last Friday, but according to Philadelphia Magazine, the city’s health commissioner Thomas Farley said the city is prepared to penalize restaurants where social distancing and other outdoor dining requirements aren’t being followed. So eat you cheesesteak but do it safely, people.
In Oregon’s largest city, WGME Portland reports that as of Wednesday, “For the first time since March, restaurants have reopened for dine-in eating.” But not all are in fact open, so please call before you go and adhere to social distancing guidelines.
Restaurants have resumed service in San Diego. Eater has been tracking the eateries that are back open for business in the city. Per the AP today, California will mandate residents wear masks in most indoor settings and outdoor setting where social distancing isn’t possible
San Francisco’s restaurants were allowed to reopen for outdoor dining only last week, however, Mission Local notes that some had issues serving alcohol due to permit restrictions. Want to be safe? Just peruse Eater’s list of 38 SF restaurants open for takeout. As mentioned, today California mandated residents wear masks in “most indoor settings.”
Seattle is open for outdoor dining, and indoor may not be far behind. According to Eater, “On Monday, ten days after the city entered ‘phase 1.5’ of Washington’s ‘Safe Start’ plan, which allowed dining rooms to open at 25 percent and outdoor seating at 50 percent, they have officially entered phase two. That means indoor dining capacity could be doubled soon (outdoor seating would stay the same, but not count toward the total restaurant capacity).”
Eater notes that “DC restaurants and bars have been able to host customers on patios, rooftops, and more unconventional outdoor spaces since Friday, May 29. Plenty more outdoor dining options went live last week, and some restaurants that opened during the dead of winter are unveiling alfresco areas for the first time. There are a few restrictions: tables have a six-person maximum and must be spaced at least six feet apart.”