Restaurants across the country are slowly reopening their doors for dine-in. With the reopening, however, comes strict rules and guidelines to abide by.


Although restaurants are permitted to reopen for dine-in to patrons, they are required to maintain a 25% to 50% capacity. Restaurants are also encouraged to promote social distancing in their dining rooms.

There are many creative ways to adhere to these new rules and regulations. Let’s take a look at how you can implement social distancing in your restaurant.

Require reservations

First and foremost, consider requiring reservations for dine-in. Requiring reservations keeps occupancy levels controlled, helps you plan for staff and inventory needs, and eliminates long waiting times for customers.

Look into third-party reservation applications to help your business manage reservations.

Expand dining outdoors

We’re approaching summer, which means more opportunities for outdoor dining when the weather permits. If possible, expand your outdoor seating area. Cities are beginning to close off streets to provide more space for restaurant seating and pedestrians.

Do some research to find out if your city has plans for closing off streets. In the meantime, if you do have outdoor dining, prepare tables at a safe distance apart from one another. 

Experiment with dining pods

An Amsterdam restaurant, Mediamatic ETEN, built glass greenhouses so diners can enjoy a delicious meal while safely social distancing from other customers.

Understandably, glass greenhouses may not be accessible. Therefore, consider clear dividers between tables. Get creative with it. There are many innovative ways to transform your tables into “dining pods.”

Fill those empty seats

Restaurants are finding fun and wacky ways to fill those empty seats with something other than humans: dummies and stuffed animals. 

A Virginia Michelin-starred restaurant is filling empty seats with mannequins to make the restaurant appear less empty while patrons are dining.

Another restaurant, Maison Saigon, is taking a cuter and fluffier approach. The Bangkok-based restaurant is occupying seats with adorable panda stuffed animals. This technique allows patrons to dine at a safe distance, whether they are eating alone or with their family and friends. 

Consider a pre-ordering option

This approach could benefit your restaurant in a couple of ways. It allows patrons to dine for a shorter period, which then opens up more tables throughout the day, permitting more sales. It also provides a safer dining experience for diners by limiting their exposure.

Bottom line

Capacity rules will affect your restaurant, so consider ways to implement social distancing techniques throughout your restaurant. Whether it be mannequins, dividers, or outdoor dining, there are many unique ways to approach this new normal of dining. Don’t hold back!