Photo via Surf Club

During her COVID-19 press briefing today, Governor Raimondo announced that restaurants will be allowed to reopen for on-premise outdoor dining beginning Monday, May 18.

Starting Monday, May 18th, restaurants will be able to begin limited outdoor dining in addition to their take-out, delivery, and drive-through operations. Restaurants will be required to operate under the following new regulations, among others: 

  • Dining will be by reservation only and groups may not exceed five people, in accordance with guidance on social gathering.
  • Tables must be at least eight feet apart or separated by barriers, and no more than 20 tables will be allowed in any outdoor space.
  • One-time-use paper menus, digital menus, or chalkboard menus will be recommended.  
  • Condiments and utensils will either be single-use or sanitized between uses.
  • All high-traffic areas will have to be frequently cleaned. Tables and chairs will be sanitized in between parties.
  • All employees must wear face coverings, and all customers must wear face coverings when they are not eating.
  • Self-service food stations like buffets and salad bars will be prohibited.
  • Cashless and contactless payment methods will be encouraged. Pens and payment stations will be frequently cleaned.
  • For now, no valet services will be allowed. Customers will be asked to park their own cars. 

The Governor also said that the state is working with municipalities to streamline outdoor dining and liquor sales. Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation is coming up with new ways to get any necessary permits that restaurants need, according to the Governor.

The Governor indicated that the full guidelines for restaurant owners and customers will be available at later today. What’s Up Newp will share them here when we receive them.

In the meantime, Rhode Island Hospitality Association shared the following info and guidelines;

The Governor announced that restaurants will be allowed to reopen for on-premise outdoor dining on Monday, May 18, 2020. RIHA will be sending out a complete guide to the new rules later on tonight.

RIHA has been at the table, advocating for common sense policies allowing restaurants to reopen.
We understand that the following guidelines are restrictive and may be difficult to implement. Our hope is that some of the stricter guidelines will only be in place for the initial reopening phase.

Below is an overview of the reopening guidelines. If you have additional questions, please email Sarah Bratko at

Capacity Restrictions
Restaurants must adhere to the following capacity restrictions
Reservations only
Waiting rooms are not permitted. If there is a line, the business is responsible for ensuring that there is six feet between parties.
Maximum 20 tables per space
8 feet between tables
Maximum party size of 5 people
Guests to wear masks when near server or when not eating
No bar seating
No buffets

Items must be disinfected between guests or single-use
Restaurants may continue to use their regular dishware and menus as long as the following conditions are met:
Menus must be one-time use or disinfected between each use
Tables must be disinfected between each use
Silverware must be disposable or pre-wrapped in a napkin. Silverware and glasses cannot be pre-set.
Condiments must be single use only or disinfected between each customer
Pens and payment stations must be frequently cleaned

Customers Restrictions
Customers will also have to participate in creating a safe environment.
Customers are required to wear masks. Customers may remove their mask to drink and eat, but must put the mask back on anytime an employee comes to the table.
Restaurants must pre-screen customers for COVID-19 symptoms. The restaurant will need to keep of log of this information for thirty days. More guidance on this coming soon.
Customers must provide their name and contact information to assist in contact tracing.
Customers may walk through the restaurant to get to outdoor seating or to use the restroom.
Valet services are prohibited

Municipal Restrictions
RIHA is advocating that municipalities make it easier for restaurants to do outdoor dining.

In an interview with Newport Mayor Jamie Bova, Vice Chair Susan Taylor, and City Manager Joe Nicholson last week, all indicated that they’d do whatever they could to work with restaurants to permit them the outdoor space and permits they need, which could even include closing streets or parking spaces.

YouTube video

Rhode Island’s Hospitality Association’s Dale Venturini, President/CEO, and Heather Singleton, Chief Operating Officer told What’s Up Newp last week that they are doing whatever it takes to assist restaurants with training and cleanliness, in an effort to give customers confidence in going out to dine and drink.

YouTube video

Restaurants have been restricted to only being able to offer take-out and delivery since March 16th.