New Safety Standards for Restaurants

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Effective September, 28, 2020, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is in Reopening Phase III and has outlined mandatory safety standards, recommended best practices and a checklist for restaurants.


The following social distancing practices are currently set and mandatory:


Require face coverings for all customers and workers at all times, except where an individual is unable to wear a face covering due to medical condition or disability.


Customers must wear face coverings unless seated at tables.


While indoor table service is permitted, restaurants are encouraged to structure operations to operate as much as possible through outdoor table service and to strictly limit indoor table service in order to assure effective compliance with social distancing requirements and to limit activities within confined spaces.


Restaurants must comply with the following sector specific social distancing rules for providing dining services in all customer seating areas:


  • Tables must be positioned so to maintain at least a 6 foot distance from all other tables and any high foot traffic areas (e.g., routes to bathrooms, entrances, exits); tables may be positioned closer if separated by protective / non-porous barriers (e.g., structural walls or plexi-glass dividers) not less than 6 feet high installed between tables and high foot traffic areas
  • The size of a party seated at a table cannot exceed 10.


Bar seating is permitted provided that either:


  • There are no active work areas or working staff behind the bar at least 6 ft away; or
  • There is a physical barrier (e.g. Plexiglas) separating customers from the bar space that is at least 30 inches high and a gap/opening at the bottom of the barrier is allowed for food and drink service as long as the gap/opening is no more than 8 inches high
  • In addition, parties must be seated at bars (no standing customer service) and parties must be spaced at least 6 ft from other parties
  • Subject to any applicable building and fire code requirements, bar areas may be re-configured to accommodate table seating that complies with all spacing and other requirements in these COVID-19 safety standards. Tables must not be placed within 6 feet of the staffed bartending area.


A complete description of mandatory safety standards and recommended best practices can be found on the website.


A downloadable checklist may also be found on

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