A quick primer on indoor dining

Racines’ note about their plans for indoor dining (they open today) made me realize a primer is in order. I can only imagine the frustrations of restaurant owners as they try to dance around these regulations, but so far folks have seemed pretty even tempered about it, at least on the outside. So here goes:

Tables are supposed to be six feet apart OR separated by 5-foot-tall barriers. And the restaurant must post — both inside and outside — how many patrons make up 25 percent of capacity, I guess so that people can snitch on them. Gatherings of more than 50 are still prohibited, so in theory there will never be more than that in the restaurant. No more than 10 people can be at a table. But you *can* be from different households.

Your temperature will be taken at the door.

With 25 percent occupancy, not all times will be available and many restaurants are trying to creating scheduled seatings or limit time at the table so they can increase their bookings. So be prepared to be flexible when you book. There are some hacks: the OpenTable mobile app now sends alerts when a more desirable time or party size opens up; just click the “Set Alert” button to the right of the available times.

“We must bid thee farewell by 11pm sharp, or else Cuomo’s gonna get us,” Racines notes. And the city’s restaurant reopening guide confirms that, as does one page on the state’s website. But the state’s own guidance for NYC indoor food services says this: “Responsible Parties must stop serving food and beverages to customers between midnight (12:00AM) local time and 5:00AM; although, Responsible Parties may permit customers to remain seated after midnight for thirty minutes after service ends, only for the purpose of finishing consumption of their
meal.” And really what is the point of limiting hours in terms of virus control??

Bar seating remains prohibited. I think I miss this more than restaurants themselves.

If you Google a restaurant, sometimes you get a “Reserve a Table” option. Don’t use it. Check the restaurant website instead since most restaurants have exclusive listings with one of the third party apps, and as a result the Google listing will show no availability.

This takes some of the fun out of neighborhood dining, but the Racines staff is asking that patrons wave from afar when they see folks they know. Makes sense.


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