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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Municipalities Prepare for Outdoor Dining Under Phase 3 Guidance

As we reported on Sunday, Illinois Governor Pritzker released guidance for businesses and employers, as all regions of the state are expected to enter “Phase 3” of the state’s Restore Illinois reopening plan on or about May 29, 2020. In addition to common guidelines for all businesses, industry-specific guidelines and toolkits are available on the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) website

Of interest to local governments will be the guidelines and toolkit for outdoor dining and drinking at restaurants and bars. Local governments and health departments are authorized to adopt more stringent regulations, but all restaurants and bars are expected to comply with the state guidelines, which generally allow on-premises consumption of food and beverage by parties of six or fewer in outdoor dining and drinking areas under guidelines that include, among other things:

Eligible Outdoor Dining or Drinking Areas

An area can be eligible for outdoor dining and drinking if it is: 
  • located on a rooftop;
  • located in an establisment with a retractable roof that is open during operating hours;
  • an outdoor space connected to or located on the site of a restaurant, grocery store, health or fitness center, hotel, golf club or other social club with a food establishment license;
  • indoor space where 50% or more of a wall can be removed via the opening of windows, doors, or panels if dining tables are within 8 feet from the opening; or
  • any other outdoor and drinking areas authorized by local governments if:
    • food and drinks are prepared by licensed food or liquor establishments; and
    • proper social distancing of 6 feet between designated customer tables and/or other seating areas is observed; and
    • parties are of 6 persons or fewer
The guidance does not specifically address tents or other outdoor coverings, but these criteria would seem to accommodate certain types of covering for an outdoor dining or drinking area.

General Health

Restaurants and bars with outdoor dining and drinking should have:
  • employees wear face coverings over their nose and mouth when within 6 feet of others;
  • provide hand washing capability or sanitizer to employees and customers; and
  • employees comply with regular hand-washing guidelines.

Physical Workspace

Among other things, restaurants and bars should:
  • configure space to allow for at least 6 feet of distance between tables or other designated customer service areas;
  • display signage at entry with face covering requirements, social distancing guidelines, and cleaning protocols;
  • have employees maintain social distance to the extent possible while performing services; and
  • ensure that the area for take-out customers allows for at least 6 eet of separation from seated customers.

Staffing and Attendance 
  • Without diminishing break-time requirements, restaurants and bars should limit the occupancy of common areas and break rooms to allow for social distancing of 6 feet or greater by removing or decommissioning furniture or staggering break times.
  • Live music is permitted but employees and performers should follow social distancing guidelines, keeping the maximum distance possible from each other and from customers.

  • Customers should wait for services off premises, either outdoors and maintaining social distance of 6 feet with use of recommended face coverings or in their vehicles.
  • With limited exceptions for people with medical conditions or disabilities, customers should wear face coverings over their nose and mouth while on premises, except while eating and drinking at a table.

Other Guidelines

Restaurants and bars should comply with other applicable guidelines for:

HR and Travel Policies
Health Monitoring
Disinfecting and Cleaning Procedures
Suppliers and Non-Customer Visitors

This is only a summary of the state’s most-recent guidance, so local governments should be sure to consult the guidelines themselves and with their attorney as they assist restaurants, bars, and other businesses reopen in compliance with the latest guidance from the State of Illinois and local health departments.

Post authored by Daniel J. Bolin, Ancel Glink


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