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State outlines rules for outdoor seating at restaurants

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BATON ROUGE- Per Governor John Bel Edwards’ COVID-19 Proclamation to be released May 1, all restaurants that provide outdoor patio venues must adhere to strict mitigation standards preventing the spread of coronavirus. 

The Office of State Fire Marshal released a statement Thursday afternoon explaining spacing requirements, capacity restrictions, use of PPE, and sanitizing guidelines for restaurants statewide.

Existing approved outdoor seating areas, including balconies and rooftops, must maintain operating features per approved occupancy. The following modifications are required:

- Reduce outdoor capacity to 25% of that allowed by the State Fire Marshal

- Space tables a minimum of 10 feet from each other (measured from all edges of the table)

- Limit table groups to 10 individuals

- Eliminate gatherings in the building when entering or exiting an outdoor seating area. 

Open Areas and Temporary Tents utilized by existing, approved restaurants, subject to local or parish rules and ordinances, must meet NFPA 101 Life Safety Code, and 2/3 of the sides must be open. The tent must not be an enclosed tent. The following conditions are required:

- Two remotely located exits if barriers (fences, barricades, etc.) exist

- Capacity based on 60 square feet 1 per person of the gross area (25% space to be occupied)

- Space tables a minimum of 10 feet from each other (measured from all edges of the table)

- Limit table groups to 10 individuals

- State-approved fire extinguisher within 75 feet of tent area

- Minimum 7-foot 6-inch headroom (ceiling height)

Frequently Asked Questions: 

- Can I set tents or open areas outside of the existing building footprint? Yes. but subject to local or parish ordinances. 

- Can I operate in a city or parish that prohibits me to open? No. Local jurisdictions can be more restrictive. 

- If guests order bottled alcohol at counter service can it be opened for them? No. 

- Can I provide a cocktail (mixed drink) as part of my alcohol license on-premises? Yes. 

- Can I provide restroom services inside my restaurant? Yes, you are allowed to. 

- Does a counter order include pick-up for a phone order and the direct ordering of food at the counter? Yes. 

- Are masks required for all restaurant employees? Yes, especially in situations that you are not maintaining social distancing. Face covers are the minimum level of mask protection. 

- Are guests required to wear masks? No, however, the public is strongly encouraged to wear face coverings when in public. 

- What are the responsibilities of providing social distancing on the patio when there is no table staff? The owner/operator will still manage the property as normal and ensure seating layouts and procedures are followed or otherwise cease service. 

For more information, click here.

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