As restaurants have begun to reopening across the country, it’s important that your establishment is taking the necessary steps to ensure a safe and clean environment for employees and patrons. Implementing social distancing guidelines at your restaurant is the best way to meet state guidelines and guarantee that everyone dining at your establishment feels comfortable. To properly set up social distancing guidelines, it is important to have a plan in place for your employees to follow.

What Is Social Distancing?

Social distancing is the practice of increasing the physical space between people in order to reduce contact or the spread of bacteria and germs. A general rule of thumb to follow is to have parties stay at least 6 feet apart from each other. Be sure to read through the social distancing guidelines provided by your state before making any adjustments at your restaurant.

The Benefits Of Social Distancing At Your Restaurant

To provide guests with the most comfortable dining experience possible during these circumstances, it’s essential that social distancing is enforced in your establishment. There are several advantages to practicing social distancing methods at your restaurant, such as:

  • Reduces contact and lowers the spread of airborne particles
  • Provides guests with a safe and comfortable dining environment
  • Offers visible instructions for customers to follow
  • Keeps employees safe while they work

5 Ways To Enforce Social Distancing At Your Establishment

If you’re struggling to find ways to enforce social distancing at your establishment, below are some helpful tips and ideas for implementing social distancing standards at your restaurant.

1. Use Floor Decals

Placing floor decals throughout your restaurant is the best way to keep customers at a safe distance from each other when standing in line or waiting to be seated. All decals should be placed 6 feet apart from each other, however, depending on the guidelines in your area, the recommended distance between each customer may vary.

Consider looking into floor decals that have cautionary slogans or instructions to follow so customers can easily read them and figure out where they should be standing. Here are some examples of helpful floor decal slogans:

  • “6 Feet Apart”
  • “Keep Your Distance”
  • “Please Wait Here”
  • “Practice Social Distancing”
  • “Remember To Protect Yourself & Others”

For a more simple, clean-cut look at your restaurant, you can simply place lines of tape 6 feet away from each other in high-traffic areas, to indicate where to seat customers.

2. Rearrange Tables

A great way to enforce social distancing at your restaurant for dine-in customers is by rearranging the tables. Depending on the size and space of your establishment, you might have to remove some tables from your dining area to create the extra physical space between customers. It’s best to keep tables 10 feet apart from each other and maintain empty tables between each dine-in customer.

There are several options for adjusting your establishment’s dining area to accommodate social distancing. For example, you can upgrade your tables with protective dividers. Some restaurants have placed clear acrylic panels on top of their dining tables so guests sitting across from each other can comfortably enjoy their meals without worrying about airborne particles.

3. Enforce Smaller Party Sizes

Maintaining a limited occupancy at your restaurant is essential in minimizing the possible spread of COVID-19 between diners. Before reopening, check your state guidelines for any suggestions on the maximum party sizes. As always, if you believe the number of people allowed to sit together is too high, you can make adjustments accordingly and create your own seating limits.

If a party arrives at your establishment that is too large, split their group into several tables around the same area. Although limiting occupancy and enforcing smaller parties sizes isn’t ideal, it's an important step to take to practice health and safety at your restaurant.

4. Create A Separate Area For Delivery Orders

With the increase in delivery and take out orders, you might experience an influx of customers or couriers entering and exiting your restaurant. As you begin to reopen your restaurant for dine-in services, creating an area for delivery orders away from the entrance of your restaurant is extremely helpful in reducing social interactions between your patrons.

To redirect delivery and take out traffic as far as possible from regular diners, take a look at the current layout of your restaurant and make a plan. Depending on the size of your restaurant, you might want to dedicate an entire side for delivery orders. Set up shelves or tables directly in front of your designated take out area so customers can quickly pick up their meals without disturbing other diners.

5. Increase Staff Rotations

Your staff’s safety matters just as much as the safety of your customers. To maintain both a sanitary and socially distant work environment for employees, decreasing the frequency in which staff members interact with each other is essential. A great way to do this is by increasing staff rotations.

Take the hourly average of typical shifts at your restaurant and cut that number in half so your employees are working fewer hours at once and constantly switching between each other. This helps minimize your individual staff members to constant exposure to bacteria or germs at your restaurant. Be sure to hold a video call or phone meeting between your employees to inform them of any new changes to their schedules.