California Covid-19 dine-in guidance released

The industry guidance for dining-in at restaurants were just released today. Note this doesn’t replace the orders at the county level regarding dine-in.


Some highlights:

• Brewpubs, breweries, bars, pubs, craft distilleries, and wineries should
remain closed until those establishments are allowed to resume modified
or full operation unless they are offering sit-down, dine-in meals. Alcohol
can only be sold in the same transaction as a meal.

• Dine-in restaurants, brewpubs, breweries, bars, pubs, craft distilleries, and
wineries that provide sit-down meals should follow the restaurant
guidance below and should continue to encourage takeout and delivery
service whenever possible.

• Brewpubs, breweries, bars, pubs, craft distilleries, and wineries that do not
provide sit-down meals themselves, but can contract with another
vendor to do so, can serve dine-in meals provided both businesses follow
the guidance below and alcohol is only sold in the same transaction as a

• Provide disposable menus to guests and make menus available digitally
so that customers can view on a personal electronic device, if possible. If
disposable menus cannot be provided, properly disinfect menus before
and after customer use. Consider options for customers to order ahead of
• Suspend use of shared food items such as condiment bottles, salt and
pepper shakers, etc. and provide these foods in single serve containers, if
possible. Where this is not possible, shared items such as condiment
bottles, shakers, etc., should be supplied as needed to customers and
disinfected after each use.

• Close areas where customers may congregate or touch food or food
ware items that other guests may use. Provide these items to guests
individually and discard or clean and disinfect after each use, as
appropriate. This includes but is not limited to:
Self-service areas with condiment caddies, utensil caddies, napkins,
lids, straws, water pitchers, to-go containers, etc.

• Consider allowing dine-in customers to order ahead of time to limit the
amount of time spent in the establishment.

• Install physical barriers or partitions at cash registers, bars, host stands, and
other areas where maintaining physical distance of six feet is difficult.

• Remove tables and chairs from dining areas so that six feet of physical
distance can be maintained for customers and employees. If tables,
chairs, booths, etc., cannot be moved, use visual cues to show that they
are not available for use or install Plexiglas or other types of impermeable
physical barriers to minimize exposure between customers.

• Bar areas should remain closed to customers.

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I understand all the procedures and why . For myself I will continue to cook at home . It would just give me the feel of eating in a prison cell .


Me too. I’ll keep cooking at home but also try to support local places via takeout (pickup so that the restaurant doesn’t get charged those onerous delivery fees).

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The protocols are borderline nuts given the recent studies that have started analyzing the most likely pathways to infection. Half the recommendations are around reducing the chance of fomite transmission, which so far appears to be a trivial source of risk. The plain fact is that running a regular indoor restaurant with minimal air exchange is totally incompatible with safety given what we now know: that even 6 feet of distance is unlikely to be enough to prevent infection over the typical timespan of a dine-in meal. Stay home.


Agree with this. I’m guessing most people have read this article about how the air conditioning at a restaurant in Guangzhou caused COVID to be spread around the restaurant.

Essentially spending any significant amount of time ( > 10 mins) indoors in a confined area with a person infected with COVID you have a decent chance of getting infected.


This picture from the study is interesting:

Don’t sit down-wind from a bunch of people at a restaurant! Not very clear how C1 and C2 got infected since the air recirculation pattern is not clear to me. Though its interesting and comforting to know patrons at tables D E and F didn’t get impacted at all, despite the proximity.

I agree the pictures are the most interesting part of the article and appeal to my engineering sensibilities.

According to the article:
An air-conditioning unit next to Family C blew air in the southward direction across all three tables; some of the air likely bounced off the wall, back in the direction of Family C.

Worth noting though is that the infection rate was not 100% even at A, B and C tables, so I guess if you have a particularly strong immune system you might just get lucky :sunglasses:. Personally I don’t need to dine in that badly where I think its worth the risk.

Unless you know of a tiny windsock that is very accurate at determining wind direction indoors and can move your seat every time it changes, I am not sure how much comfort I’m supposed to take in the notion that at least you’re not guaranteed to be infected at every spot in a restaurant that contains an infected person.

mbl puts it well below - what, are we all going to bone up on fluid dynamics and pull the HVAC blueprints of every restaurant we plan to visit so we can model the airflow and pick an exposure-minimizing table when the alternative is…just getting takeout?

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I can just imagine calling up a restaurant and asking for their HVAC blueprints :laughing:

And on 2nd inspection the pictures aren’t clear whether or not there were actually people sitting at the empty circles on A, B and C, so perhaps the infection rate was 100% or close to it. Either way, still not worth the risk.

“HEPA filters have demonstrated good performance with particles of the SARS-Cov-2 virus size,” the European Union Aviation Safety Agency advised aircraft operators in April.

So I will just build a big HEPA box around me with HEPA filters in order to eat in.



We eat out for the experience. I can’t put my finger on how long it will be before we eat out again. Not worth the stress. My wife and I will just play rock-paper-scissors-lizard-Spock to see who gets to cook.

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We ate out at Farmstead in Napa tonight. The masks and all the cleaning was a bit disconcerting, but the spacing felt comfortable, the plexiglass unobtrusive when present (you might be able to see one in the second picture), the atmosphere was not sterile, we were in and out faster than usual, and overall had a good time.

And no one was in the gardens!


Starting 6/5, Santa Clara County allows outdoor dining at restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, subject to limitations/social distancing.

What are the other counties’ guidelines?

Still nothing allowed in Alameda or Contra Costa besides takeout and pickup. SF is allowing outdoor dining beginning on June 15 and is aiming to allow indoor dining on July 13.

Not that anybody cares, but restaurants are open in Vacaville! Not sure about the rest of the county, but it’s on the basis of whether you can follow the guidelines.

Sonoma County

“Restaurants, food facilities, breweries, bars, pubs, craft distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms are allowed to operate outdoors if they offer sit-down meals, including providing the meals by contract with another vendor.” Social distancing still applies.

Its interesting Napa can dine-in while Sonoma is outdoors only.

Sonoma county just had a spike in cases. They may be open for indoor dining this weekend.

September 23rd Napa Valley Update