Restaurants and Bars

Restaurants in Arkansas may resume limited dine-in service under Phase 1 guidelines that require daily health screening of staff, use of face masks and gloves and strict social distancing. Effective Date – Monday, May 11, 2020. Restaurants may continue alcohol takeaway and delivery service, adhering to the Alcohol Beverage Control regulations.

Bars associated with a restaurant can resume operations consistent with Phase One guidelines effective on Tuesday, May 19, 2020.

Freestanding bars can open on Tuesday, May 26, 2020.

Phase 1 Guidelines

RESTAURANTS

  • Dine-in service may resume; however, seating shall be limited up to 33% of total seating capacity. This includes indoor and outdoor dining areas.
  • Seating shall be adjusted to maintain ten-foot physical distancing between tables so occupied seats are six feet from seats at adjacent tables.
  • Reservations should be encouraged when practical. If reservations are not made, physical distancing must be maintained when customers are waiting to be seated.
  • All staff who come in contact with patrons must wear a face mask that completely covers their nose and mouth. Staff in the back are encouraged to wear a facemask.
  • Gloves used during food preparation should be worn in accordance with the Rules Pertaining to Retail Food Establishments. Glove use by waitstaff and others who do not directly contact food with their hands is optional.
  • Patrons must wear a face covering upon entrance and while in the restaurant until the food or drink is served.
  • All staff shall be screened daily before entering the facility. Any employee with a cough, sore throat, fever or shortness of breath shall be immediately excluded from the facility.
  • Signage must be placed at the front of restaurants to alert patrons not to enter the facility if they are sick or have symptoms such as cough, sore throat, fever or shortness of breath.
  • Monitoring of frequent handwashing and no bare-hand contact of ready-to-eat foods by staff.
  • Encourage customers to pre-order meals to reduce time spent in the facility. This includes for takeout services.
  • Groups shall be limited, not to exceed ten people.
  • Restaurants are encouraged to have a senior hour to provide exclusive access to these high-risk individuals.
  • Self-service operations, including, but not limited to, salad bars, buffets and condiment bars shall remain closed for patron access.
  • Facilities with any employee testing positive shall be reported to the Arkansas Department of Health immediately.
  • Following each meal service, the tables, chairs, menus and any other frequently contacted surfaces including, but not limited to, condiment containers, napkin holders and salt/pepper shakers shall be cleaned and disinfected prior to seating the next customer.
    • Products with an EPA-approved emerging viral pathogen claims are expected to be effective against COVID-19. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for these products. For a list of EPA-approved emerging pathogen sanitizers: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-againstsars-cov-2. (Non-food contact surfaces may be sanitized with 1/2 cup of regular, unscented bleach per gallon of water followed by a 5-minute contacttime.)
  • Food contact surfaces shall be sanitized in accordance with §4-501.114 of the Rules Pertaining to Retail Food Establishments.
  • Single-Use items including, but not limited to, disposable silverware, condiment packets and straws shall be removed from public access and provided only upon request.
  • Bars housed within restaurants are now allowed to operate, effective May 19, 2020, so long as physical distancing of six feet between individuals is maintained.
  • Entertainment operations within restaurants (such as live music, in-seat gaming or arcades) are permitted, effective May 19, 2020. Entertainment involving performers, such as live music or singing, shall follow these requirements:
    • The performers or players must be separated from the audience by at least 12 feet and must be limited in number to fifty (50) or fewer.
    • Performers or players may be without a face covering if they are 12 feet from other persons, including other performers.
  • In-seat gaming, arcades, billiards and other games that patrons physically touch should be disinfected between each use.
  • Restrooms and other high-touch areas shall be disinfected frequently based on customer volume.
  • Service may be declined to patrons not wearing masks.

The above restrictions will be in place until the Secretary of Health determines epidemiological data are sufficient to proceed to Phase 2 and then Phase 3. The requirements for Phase 2 and 3 will supersede the above-mentioned requirements. Phase 2 will include less restrictive measures such as increasing the total available seating to 66% and opening bars and entertainment operations while maintaining six feet physical distance among patrons. Phase 3 will include returning to normal operations with full seating capacity.

Phase 1 Guidelines

BAR AND CLUB OPERATIONS

  • Service at bars may resume on May 26, 2020; however, seating shall be limited to up to 33% of total seating capacity. This includes indoor and outdoor dining areas.
  • Seating at tables shall be adjusted to maintain 10-foot physical distancing between tables so occupied seats are six feet from seats at adjacent tables.
  • Seating at the bar shall maintain six feet of physical distancing between individuals.
  • Reservations should be encouraged when practical. If reservations are not made, physical distancing must be maintained when customers are waiting to be seated.
  • All staff who come in contact with patrons must wear a face covering or mask that completely covers their nose and mouth. Staff in the back are encouraged to wear a face covering or mask.
  • Gloves used during food preparation shall be worn in accordance with the Rules Pertaining to Retail Food Establishments. Glove use by waitstaff and others who do not directly contact food or beverages with their hands is optional.
  • Patrons must wear a face covering upon entrance and while in the restaurant until the food or drink is served. Service may be declined to patrons not wearing face coverings or masks.
  • All staff shall be screened daily before entering the facility. Any employee with a cough, sore throat, fever or shortness of breath shall be immediately excluded from the facility.
  • Signage must be placed at the front of restaurants to alert patrons not to enter the facility if they are sick or have symptoms such as cough, sore throat, fever or shortness of breath.
  • Monitoring of frequent handwashing and no bare-hand contact of ready-to- eat foods by staff.
  • Drinks shall be served to customers in individual glasses/containers. No shared containers of drinks, such as pitchers of beer or mixed drinks.
  • Groups at one table shall not exceed 10 people.
  • Self-service operations, including, but not limited to, bar snacks (pretzels, peanuts, etc.), buffets and condiment bars shall remain closed for patron access.
  • Facilities with any employee testing positive shall report the result to the Arkansas Department of Health immediately.
  • Following each drink or meal service, the tables, chairs, menus and any other frequently contacted surfaces, including, but not limited to, condiment containers, napkin holders and salt/pepper shakers, shall be cleaned and disinfected prior to seating the next customer.
    • Products with an EPA-approved emerging viral pathogen claims are expected to be effective against COVID-19. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for these products. For a list of EPA-approved emerging pathogen sanitizers: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-againstsars-cov-2. (Non-food contact surfaces may be sanitized with 1/2 cup of regular, unscented bleach per gallon of water followed by a 5-minute contact time.)
  • ​​​​​​​Food contact surfaces shall be sanitized in accordance with §4-501.114 of the Rules Pertaining to Retail Food Establishments
  • Single-use items including, but not limited to, disposable silverware, condiment packets and straws shall be removed from public access and provided only upon request.
  • Entertainment operations within bars (such as live music or live dancers, in-seat gaming or arcades) are permitted, effective May 19, 2020. Entertainment involving performers, such as live musicians, singers or dancers, shall follow these requirements:
    • The performers or players must be separated from the audience by at least 12 feet.
    • Performers or players may be without a face covering if they are 12 feet from other persons, including other performers. Performers should wear a face covering while not performing.
  • Dancing by patrons is prohibited at this time.
  • In-seat gaming, arcades, billiards and other games that patrons physically touch should be disinfected between each use.
  • Restrooms and other high-touch areas shall be disinfected frequently based on customer volume.