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Pennsylvania to Permit Outdoor Dining on June 5 in Yellow Phase Counties and Issues Guidance for Dine-In Service for Green Phase Counties on May 29

Yellow Phase – Outdoor Dining

Beginning June 5, restaurants and retail foodservice businesses located in counties designated as being in the yellow phase are permitted to add dine-in service in outdoor seating areas so long as they strictly adhere to the requirements of the guidance, including maximum occupancy limits:

  • Indoor areas, including bar areas of restaurants and retail foodservice businesses must be closed to customers except for through-traffic. Non-bar seating in outdoor areas (i.e., tables or counter seats that do not line up to a bar or food service area) may be used for customer seating.
  • Customers being served must be seated at a table.
  • All businesses and employees in the restaurant and retail foodservice industry authorized to conduct in-person activities in yellow phase counties pursuant to this guidance are prohibited from doing the following:
    • Using self-service food or drink options, such as buffets, salad bars, and condiments.
    • Condiments must be removed from tables and dispensed by employees upon the request of a customer.
    • Using reusable menus, other than digital menus sanitized after each use.
    • Refilling food and beverage containers or implements brought in by customers.

It is important to note that the guidance states it is not bypassing your local government and, possibly the PLCB. We are going to get clarification from the PLCB if any approval from them will be required and update this post accordingly. Regardless, you will still be required to get the required local permitting to permit outdoor seating and dining, such as a sidewalk permit or other outdoor service permit if the municipality requires it and you do not already have it.

Green Phase – Resume Dine-In Service

The following counties will enter the green phase on May 29 at 12:01 AM, which will permit restaurants and licensed businesses to resume dine-in service up to 50% of their capacity, as further discussed below: Bradford, Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Elk, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, McKean, Montour, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Venango, and Warren. The link for the full guidance is included below, but the main points from the guidance are that businesses must do the following:

  • Bar seating may be utilized if customers are seated and comply with physical distancing guidelines of at least six feet or physical barriers between customers. Standing in a bar area will not be permitted.
  • A maximum of four customers that have a common relationship may sit together at the bar while adhering to the physical distancing guidelines or barriers between other customers.

Applicable Rules for Yellow and Green County Service

  • All businesses resuming in-person service, whether outdoor service in yellow phase counties or dine-in service in green phase counties, must adhere to, among other requirements included in the guidance linked below, the following requirements:
  • Customers must wear masks at all times, except while seated at a table, unless the customer is medically unable – which they will not be required to prove.
  • Provide at least six feet between parties at tables, (i.e., the six feet cannot include the space taken up by the seated guest). If tables or other seating are not movable, seat parties at least six feet apart.
  • Spacing must also allow for physical distancing from areas outside of the facility’s control (i.e., such that pedestrians on a sidewalk can pass with at least six feet of distance to a customer).
  • Ensure maximum occupancy limits for indoor and outdoor areas are posted and strictly enforced. Maximum occupancy is calculated using the following two methods. The more restrictive number must be used.
    • Method 1: Limit to 50% of stated fire capacity or twelve people per 1,000 square feet if there is not a fire code number available. When no fire code number is available for outdoor dining, the twelve people per 1,000 square feet number should be applied.
    • Method 2: Arrange the restaurant or retail foodservice business so that customers sitting at a table are not within six feet of any customers sitting at another table in any direction and calculate the maximum number of customers that can be accommodated.
    • Utilize reservations for dining on-premises to maintain records of all appointments, including contact information for all customers.
  • Use staff-facilitated seating where appropriate. If seating is not staff facilitated and tables cannot be moved to meet the physical distancing requirements outlined above, tables that should not be used must be clearly marked as out of service.
  • Allow no more than ten people at a table unless they are a family from the same household.
  • Use single-use disposable menus (e.g., paper) and discard after each customer or utilize a written posting such as a chalkboard or whiteboard to relay menu information.
  • Install physical barriers, such as sneeze guards and partitions, at point of sale terminals, cash registers, bars, host stands, and other areas where maintaining a physical distance of six feet is difficult.

The full guidance can be found at https://www.governor.pa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/20200527-Restaurant-Industry-Guidance.pdf.

©2020 Norris McLaughlin P.A., All Rights ReservedNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 149

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About this Author

Matthew B. Andersen Corporate Business & Liquor Law Attorney Norris Mclaughlin Law Firm Pennsylvania
Associate

Matthew B. Andersen concentrates his practice on business law and liquor law.

In his liquor law practice, Matt works with all tiers of the alcohol industry, advising manufacturers, retailers, and wholesalers.  Matt assists breweries, distilleries, wineries, wholesalers, distributors, restaurants, and hotels on obtaining and transferring liquor licenses, obtaining state and federal manufacturing permits and licensing, complying with federal/state liquor regulations and laws, providing transactional counseling, and defending citations and protests...

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