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Public Health – Seattle & King County thanks our licensed food establishment partners for helping reduce the spread of COVID-19. This document outlines a plan for reopening that safely increases business, protects public health and meets Phase 2 requirements. Phase 2 of the Governor's Safe Start plan allows restaurants and taverns to open with strict safety and health measures.

Restaurants and taverns must develop and adopt a written procedure for dine-in service that meets Phase 2 guidelines listed below. The procedure must also comply with all safety and health requirements made by Public Health – Seattle & King County, Governor Jay Inslee, Washington State Department of Health, and Washington State Department of Labor & Industry. For more information, read Public Health's COVID-19 Guidance for Restaurants and Workplaces.

*Written procedures do not need to be submitted to Public Health — Seattle & King County for approval, but should be available during inspections.


Dine-in service procedure

  1. Provide hand sanitizer for all staff and customers, if available.

  2. Bar service is not allowed in Phase 2. Bar service refers to multiple diners sitting at a bar that serves food or beverages. Specific examples include sushi bars, tapas bars, and bars within establishments that offer alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Table seating next to bar areas is allowed with proper distancing between customers.

  3. Restaurants that do not have table service must have protocols that ensure adequate social distancing at food and drink pick-up stations and dining area. Table service is when servers take guests' orders at their table and bring them their food.

  4. All tables must have 5 or fewer guests.

  5. Guest occupancy must be 50% of maximum building occupancy or lower as determined by the local Fire Marshall. Outdoor seating is allowed but must also be at 50% capacity. Outdoor seating does not count toward the building occupancy limit. Outdoor seating must follow all other requirements in this document.

    • An outdoor seating permit may be required for expanding or creating a new outdoor seating area on private property or public right-of-way. Obtain the appropriate outdoor seating permit from your local municipality if you are expanding or creating new outdoor seating.

    • Physical distancing of more than six feet between chairs of adjacent outdoor tables should be maintained in all sides and at all times and also use only 50% of seating capacity allowed and approved by your local municipality.

    • Food establishments that share common walls with adjacent restaurants need to set up their outdoor seating so that they are more than six feet apart or separated by a physical barrier. Physical barriers may be needed in other areas as well to maintain separation from public right-of-ways and other public areas. Please consult with your local municipality on what types of physical barriers are allowed.

  6. Tables must be far enough apart so that guests are a minimum of 6 feet away from others while seated. A physical barrier or wall separating booths or tables is acceptable.

  7. Customers are strongly encouraged to wear a cloth face covering anytime they are not seated at the table (while being seated or leaving, or while walking to the restroom). Cloth facial coverings must be worn by every employee not working alone.

  8. Buffets and salad bars and other self-serve food and beverage dispensing service are allowed with the following restrictions:
    • Physical distancing of 6 feet between customers, with floor markings
    • Hourly utensil replacement or wash/rinse/sanitize
    • Staff monitoring to ensure these requirements are met
    • Sneeze guard-type covers for open foods
    • Provide hand sanitizer for customers at the beginning AND end of the salad bar/buffet
    • Signage as a reminder of physical distancing, face coverings, hand sanitizer use, staying home with symptoms, no reuse of utensils or place
    • When catering for approved events, these same guidelines apply
    • For any type of self-serve food or beverage dispensing machines, bulk bins or containers, touch points such as handles, scoops and touch screens should be sanitized hourly and changed out or washed/rinsed/sanitized at least every 4 hours

  9. For self-serve beverage services, restaurants must provide signage informing customers that cups, lids, and straws cannot be reused. They must obtain new items for refills. Employees must provide single-service cups, lids, and wrapped straws to customers from behind the counter, and must wash hands frequently and correctly if handing single-service utensils.

  10. Catering for weddings and funerals is allowed with restrictions, based on these guidelines.

  11. Restaurants with table service must ask customers for contact information. However, customers are not required to provide their information. If the customer volunteers to provide their information, the restaurant should document the customer name, telephone or email contact information, date, and time-in. The restaurant must keep customer information for 30 days. If a COVID-19 outbreak occurs among customers, this information will help Public Health contact them.

  12. Provide a menu using one of the following options; 1) single-use disposable menu, 2) electronic, chalk board, or white board menu, 3) an app service or website for viewing on customer's personal device.

    Reusable menus are not allowed.

  13. Any condiments (such as ketchup or soy sauce) must be single-use or sanitized hourly.

  14. Restaurants must ensure proper physical distancing in the lobby, waiting areas, and payment counters.

  15. Minimize the number of staff serving a table. One staff person should take a table's order, bring their beverages, food, and utensils, and take their payment.

Employee safety and health

Employers must follow the Washington State Department of Labor & Industry COVID-19 requirements to protect workers:

  1. Educate workers about coronavirus and how to prevent spread of disease. Workers should also know the employer’s COVID-19 policies. This should happen in the language workers understand best.

  2. Always maintain at least six feet of separation between all employees and customers. If physical distancing is not possible for a specific task, use other prevention measures: use physical barriers, limit the number of people in narrow or enclosed areas, stagger breaks and work shift starts so fewer people are working at the same time.

  3. Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, goggles, face shields and facemasks as appropriate to employees for the work activity.

Customer safety and health

Restaurants and taverns must take steps to make sure that customers understand and practice behaviors that will help minimize the spread of COVID-19.

  1. Place signs at the entrance to encourage customers to: 1) stay home if ill or having COVID-19 symptoms, 2) wear a face covering unless eating, 3) use hand sanitizer upon entering building, 4) stay six feet away from others at all times.

  2. Ensure restrooms are supplied with warm water, soap, and single-use towels for handwashing.

  3. Frequently clean and disinfect common surfaces in dining areas and restrooms.