Restaurants & food services

Updated May 28, 2021.

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    • The restaurant must notify and cooperate with their local public health agency on next steps.

    • Local public health agency contacts can be found here.

    • Outbreak guidance for non-healthcare facilities can be found here.

    Restaurants, bars, and food services: indoor and outdoor on-premise dining

    Restaurants should ensure 6 feet of distance between parties from different households. Some counties may require capacity limits at the local level. Consult your local public health agency for more information about local regulations. 

    Best practices for restaurants and food services 

    • Restaurants are encouraged to continue curbside pick-up/delivery, including alcohol pick-up/delivery.
    • Outdoor dine-in service is encouraged. Please work with local authorities to get authorization for expanding space to accommodate outdoor dine-in for adjacent or nonadjacent public or private spaces. The following best practices are encouraged:
      • Patrons in different parties should be at least 6 feet apart.
      • All services should be cleaned between seatings.
    • Indoor dine-in service should use the following best practices:
      • Patrons in different parties should be at least 6 feet apart.
      • Unvaccinated people are strongly encouraged to wear masks in restaurants, except while seated. Restaurants may require patrons to wear masks when they are not seated.
      • Ensure maximum ventilation by opening windows and minimizing air conditioning to the extent possible.
      • Clean shared surfaces between parties/at each turnover.
      • Keep parties together.
    • Make efforts to reduce congregating inside and outside the establishment including:
      • Encouraging (preferably requiring) reservations, if feasible.
      • Waiting parties should not congregate in entrance areas and should wait in their cars or off premises until seating is available.
      • Discouraging close proximity to others outside the patron’s group by:
        • Eliminating communal seating.
        • Providing a hostess seating option or staffing the dining area to ensure cleaning prior to the next customer seating.
      • Eliminating customer-service buffets.
      • Eliminating self-service stations that have multi-use utensils (such as hot dog roller tongs, bulk food bins and coffee urns) and implement touchless self-service wherever practicable. 
      • Clearly marking floor and ground to delineate 6-foot spacing for people in lines, and mark how foot traffic should move. Clearly marking closed tables not available for seating customers.
    • Post clear signs notifying patrons and employees of hygiene and sanitation expectations, including not entering if they or anyone in their household is experiencing any symptoms of illness.
    • Minimize objects touched by multiple patrons including:
      • Discontinue use of tablecloths, or move to single-use, or remove and replace laundered tablecloths between patrons.
    • Clean any shared objects such as check presenters, laminated menus (if used) and POS machines thoroughly between uses.
    • Increase cleaning and disinfection protocols and track with publicly posted cleaning logs including:
      • Use, as much as practicable, disposable single-use menus, menu boards, or create online menus for guests to review from their electronic device.
      • Provide single-use or single serving condiments.
      • Block off stalls and urinals with proper signage to support 6 feet between patrons. This may require reduced bathroom capacity or even only one person in a bathroom at a time.
    • Provide hand sanitizer at the check-in area and throughout the venue
    • Encourage employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Consider hosting an employee vaccination event through CDPHE’s workplace vaccination program.

    • Implement symptom monitoring protocols (including workplace temperature monitoring and symptom screening questions) where possible and encourage sick employees to use the Colorado COVID Symptom Support tool.

    • Appoint one employee per shift to monitor staff and public for adherence to safety measures.

    • Require employees to stay home and refer to employer or state support when showing any symptoms of sickness.

    • Provide guidance and ongoing training on maintaining 6 foot distancing between employees to the greatest extent possible in all areas of operation.

    • Implement systems to minimize staff interactions, such as workflows, shift cohorting (same staff on each shift), staggering of shifts, shift changes, and breaks.

    • Encourage the use of non-latex gloves or frequent handwashing. Encourage frequent breaks to wash hands (at least every 30 minutes) including upon arrival and departure.

    • Adhere strictly to the hygienic practices listed in the Colorado Retail Food Regulations including:

      • Not working when sick.

      • Frequent hand washing.

      • Changing gloves between tasks.

      • Using a fresh pair of gloves after each handwashing.

    • Consider modifying the menu to create additional space in the kitchen and promote physical distancing. Implement physical distancing where practicable.

    • Consider virtual staff meetings or meetings outside with appropriate distancing.

    • Provide high-quality masks for employees as much as possible.

    • Performances with vocal speech or singing, wind or brass instruments, or activities that cause heavy breathing should be 12 feet from patrons if the performer is wearing a mask.* Unvaccinated performers are strongly recommended to wear masks. Venues may require performers to wear masks while performing. If not wearing a mask, performers should be 25 feet from spectators. Performances with no forced exhalation as in the prior examples, like a piano, harp, or organ player, should be a minimum of 6 feet from patrons, but 12 feet is preferred.

    • Participants (e.g., players, performers, actors, competitors, entertainers, etc.) in events should have their symptoms checked, and unvaccinated participants who have been in close contact with an exposed or symptomatic person (within 6 feet for at least 10 minutes) should not participate and should self-quarantine.

    • Adopt seating and spacing modifications to increase physical distance from a performer. 

    • Where necessary, install barriers to minimize travel of aerosolized particles from performers, or implement alternative placement of performers.

    • Maximize physical spacing between performers on-stage.

    • Clean high-touch areas and equipment such as: microphones, instruments, props, etc. between uses.

    *Research and the CDC suggest that activities like singing may project respiratory droplets in greater quantity and over greater distance, increasing the risk of COVID-19 transmission, particularly with prolonged exposure.

    To protect customers
    • Provide an option for customers to “sign in” to facilitate notifying them if an exposure occurs.

    • Provide contactless payment or prepayment options whenever possible.

    • Establish customer waiting areas, outdoors if possible, that maintain proper physical distancing from other guests.

    • Discourage standing and/or congregating in the bar area, entrance/exit, and any interior spaces.

    • Continue curbside pick up/delivery options and recommend them for people at high risk of severe illness.

    • Encourage unvaccinated customers to wear masks indoors, except while seated. Restaurants may require masks.

    • Consider refusing service to customers who refuse to follow hygiene, masking, and physical distancing recommendations.

    • Offer takeout, curbside pickup, or delivery.

    Restaurant operating guidance

    Picture guidelines: