Restaurants & food services

Updated May 3, 2021.

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    IF THERE IS A CONFIRMED CASE OF COVID-19 AMONG EMPLOYEES OR CUSTOMERS

    • 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, where patrons go for the primary purpose of dine-in service, 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. 

    Bars may conduct take-out service. 

    Alcohol sales, including take-out alcohol orders, are dependent on county regulations.

    Food service space 

    • 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 requirements must be met:
      • Patrons in different parties should be a minimum of 6 feet apart. The spacing of tables may need to be 6 feet or more to ensure proper physical distancing between diners from different parties. 
      • All services must be disinfected and deep-cleaned between seatings.
    • Indoor dine-in service should adhere to the following guidelines:
      • Patrons in different parties should be a minimum of 6 feet apart. The spacing of tables may need to be 6 feet or more to ensure proper physical distancing between diners from different parties.
      • In counties with one-week disease incidence rates in excess of 35 per 100,000 (Levels Blue through Purple), employees must wear masks that cover the nose and mouth, except where doing so would inhibit that individual’s health, wherever 10 or more unvaccinated individuals or individuals of unknown vaccination status are present. Individuals are permitted to remove their masks in public indoor spaces if 80% of the individuals in the space have shown proof of vaccination. Restaurants should err on the side of assuming that people entering their indoor site are unvaccinated.
      • Ensure maximum ventilation by opening windows and minimizing air conditioning to the extent possible.
      • Deep clean and disinfect all shared surfaces between parties/at each turnover.
      • Keep parties together, and do not allow them to mingle with each other.
    • Limit party size to 10 people or fewer.
    • Make efforts to reduce congregating inside and outside the establishment including:
      • Encouraging (preferably requiring) reservations, if feasible.
      • Waiting parties must not congregate in entrance areas and should wait in their cars or off premises until seating is available.
      • Disallowing 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 and disinfecting prior to next-customer seating.
        • Only allow bar seating options if the bar is not being used for bar service or if there is a clearly designated and separated section of the bar that is not being used for bar service.
      • 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. Self-service refills are not allowed. 
      • Clearly mark floor and ground to delineate 6-foot spacing for people in lines, and mark how foot traffic should move. Clearly mark 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.
    • Disinfect 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.
      • Disinfect restrooms every hour.
      • 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

    Employees  
    • 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 (information about emergency sick leave pay).

    • 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.

    • In counties with one-week disease incidence rates in excess of 35 per 100,000 (Levels Blue through Purple), employees must wear masks that cover the nose and mouth, except where doing so would inhibit that individual’s health, wherever 10 or more unvaccinated individuals or individuals of unknown vaccination status are present. Individuals are permitted to remove their masks in public indoor spaces if 80% of the individuals in the space have shown proof of vaccination. Restaurants should err on the side of assuming that people entering their indoor site are unvaccinated. Once 85% of a restaurant’s employees are fully vaccinated, employees are no longer required to wear masks.

    • Require 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.

    • All staff meetings must follow physical distancing. Consider virtual meetings or meetings outside with appropriate distancing.

    • Require employees to take home all belongings, including water bottles, after every shift.

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

    Performers/competitors
    • 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.* 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 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.

    • Performers should use a separate entrance/exit than patrons where possible.

    • Performers are not included in capacity limits so long as they do not join the spectator/patron areas at any time. If performers join the patron spaces, they must be included in the capacity limit numbers.

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

    • Limit dancing on dance floors to no more than 10 people from the same party. Dancing parties should remain 6 feet from others and follow current mask mandates.

    *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.

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

    • Continue curbside pick up/delivery options and recommend them for vulnerable individuals.

    • Face coverings are required to be worn in all public indoor spaces unless it would inhibit the individual’s health, while they are eating or drinking, or if it is not age-appropriate.

    • Consider refusing service to customers who refuse to adhere to hygiene and physical distancing requirements.

    • Make accommodations for individuals unable to adhere to masking and physical distancing requirements, such as takeout, curbside, or delivery.

    Pick-up only 

    Pick-up space
    • Limit restaurant service to walk-up/ window/ curbside pick up, or delivery only.

    • Elevate and increase frequency of cleaning practices, including disinfection of high-touch areas.

    • Conduct daily disinfection and full cleaning in-between shifts in accordance with CDPHE guidance.

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

    • Post signage for employees and customers on good hygiene and other sanitation practices.

    • Clearly designate pick-up waiting areas with markers for proper distancing between parties, and ensure they do not interfere with in-establishment dining – whether indoors or outside.

    Employees
    • Provide guidance and encouragement on maintaining 6 foot distancing between employees.

    • Wear non-latex gloves and face coverings during meal-prep and cleaning

    • Institute frequent breaks to wash hands.

    • Require employees to stay home when showing any symptoms of sickness.

    • Employers are encouraged to provide high-quality masks.

    To protect customers
    • Implement 6 foot distancing measures (i.e., marked space in check-out lines).

    • Provide contactless payment options whenever possible.

    • Make accommodations for individuals unable to adhere to mask and physical distancing requirements, such as takeout, curbside or delivery.

    Restaurant operating guidance

    Picture guidelines:
    Outdoor dining:

    Frequently asked questions

    Yes. Since food trucks have a license to serve food, they are allowed.

    Yes.

    Bars should follow seated indoor guidance, which includes having patrons seated together in defined groups of up to 8 people who are seated, not allowing patrons to mingle with other groups, observing spacing and hygiene requirements, preferably utilizing a reservation system, and requesting patrons wear a mask when not eating or drinking. 

    While it is not possible to eliminate the risk of COVID-19 exposure, restaurants should take precautions to ensure the safety of the space, employees, and customers. Find additional information on the risks of specific activities.

    • Yes. Arcade games should follow the best practices described in the indoor and outdoor events guidance.

    • Arcades with food service should follow restaurant guidance for designated dining areas. 

      • Dining areas and activities should be separated from gaming areas as much as possible. 

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

    • Maintain at least 6 feet distancing between groups.

    • Lower or turn off volume on games to reduce the need to speak loudly, as forced exhalation increases the risk of transmission.