COVID-19 - Re-Opening

LAST UPDATED: May 8, 2021

RI Hospitality Strong

Rhode Island's hospitality industry has been there for all of your big moments. It's time to be there for our industry.

The COVID-19 crisis has had an unimaginable impact on the industry but we are working every day to make sure that our industry continues to be the shining star of Rhode Island's economy.

RIHA has been working with the Governor's office to advocate for the safe reopening of restaurants. We understand that there will be additional regulations in place and are working to ensure that the public is welcomed back with best practices in place for a safe dining experience and that our members’ interests are being protected in the process.

Visit for more information.

COVID-19 Reopening Supplies

Read more


The RI Hospitality Association has partnered with Commerce RI to provide PPE supplies to the hospitality industry.

Businesses with 50 or less employees are eligible, and supplies will be limited and made available on a first come, first serve basis. Each business is required to have a COVID-19 Control Plan confirming the business’ acknowledgement of their role in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

This plan can be found here:

COVID Control Plan in English:

COVID Control Plan in Spanish:

National Restaurant Association Issues Updated COVID-19 Operating Guidance with Latest Employee Training Best Practices

The National Restaurant Association and ServSafe® released an updated version of its COVID-19 Operating Guidance incorporating new information on best practices to train staff on risk mitigation regarding the spread of COVID-19. The Operating Guidance continues to incorporate the latest information from sources including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

Key updates on employee training and education include:

  • Guidance on effective education methods for training employees on COVID-19 policies.
  • Details on key topics to include in employee training materials such as the difference between cleaning and disinfecting as well as OSHA Hazard Communication Standards.
  • Information on effective communication channels for employees to express concerns, ask questions, make comments, and provide feedback.

“Given the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and the evolution of learnings shared by the scientific community and governing bodies, it is important that operators prioritize staff training and risk mitigation regarding the spread of COVID-19,” said Larry Lynch, senior vice president of Science and Industry for the National Restaurant Association. “The foodservice industry is a leader in adapting and training employees in best practices for food safety and this COVID-19 training is an extension of those best practices. It’s essential that owners and operators operationalize this training and revisit it with staff frequently.”

This is the fifth version of the COVID-19 Operating Guidance since it was released by the Association and ServSafe in April 2020. In addition, ServSafe has made available free training videos to provide hands-on, educational resources on COVID-19 best practices for restaurant and foodservice workers covering topics such as conflict de-escalation, safe reopening, takeout and delivery.

Download the latest COVID-19 Operating Guidance

Restaurant Reopening Toolkit

As many of our members prepare to open for outdoor on-premise dining, RIHA knows that you have a lot of questions.

RIHA has developed a Restaurant Reopening Toolkit to help you prepare to reopen. The information below is for informational purposes only and is subject to change.

If you have additional questions, please contact Sarah Bratko at

Preparing to Reopen

Read through the state guidelines

Businesses are required to comply with a new group of mandates to ensue employee and customer safety.

Please read through the following Guidelines mandated by the State:

Check with your municipality to comply with rules on outdoor dining

Municipalities across the state are working with restaurants to make it easier to do outdoor dining.

Check with your municipality about what you need to do to have outdoor dining.

Restaurant Outdoor Dining Sidewalk Seating & Roadway Parking Permit Application

Review and complete the Food Safety Reopening Toolkit

Many restaurants have been operating at a reduced capacity. It is important that when we reopen, restaurants are taking precautions to ensure that their establishments are following the health and safety rules.

Our Food Safety experts have developed a Food Safety Reopening Toolkit to guide you in your reopening efforts.

Employee Guidance for Restaurants

As you prepare your operation to reopen, it is important to ensure your team is trained and ready to perform their duties with new guidelines. Download RIHA’s Employee Guidance for Restaurants


Required Signage

Businesses are required to post certain information for customers, vendors and employees.

Create system for "pre-screen" guests and vendors for COVID-19 symptoms

RIDOH requires that establishments screen employees, customers, and visitors entering an establishment. People whose responses to screening questions indicate they are sick, or who show visible signs of illness, must be denied entrance and instructed to isolate.

Screening of customers and visitors may consist of self-screening as guided by posted signage. Download a sample poster here.

In addition to screening for COVID-19 symptoms and risk factors as outlined in the general guidance, restaurants should inform customers upon securing a reservation of screening requirements and notify customers that they should not dine at the restaurant if any member of their party does not meet screening standards. This notification can be done by phone, text, email, or verbally.

Customers should wear masks:

  • Entering/exit the building
  • Walking around the building
  • Additionally, no more than 8 customers are allowed at a single table.

Masks can be removed when dining

Establishments are permitted to establish their own facial covering policy pertaining to customers when they are dining, provided that such policy is in addition to and not in conflict with the State's policy and complies with other applicable law.

Contact Tracing

Restaurants are required to keep a record of the name and phone number of the customer making the reservation for 30 days. This information will be used for contact tracing should someone who is employed at a restaurant or dining at a restaurant is diagnosed by COVID-19.


  • Self-service seating (e.g. in a fast food restaurant) is prohibited.
  • Staff may designate tables for customers (e.g. by table number) upon checkout, so long as the establishment ensures that tables are cleaned between customers and that customers sit only in areas that permit social distancing.
  • Online and phone reservations are strongly encouraged but not required. If online and phone reservations cannot be implemented, outdoor reservation or host stations for taking in-person reservations and receiving customers are strongly recommended as an alternative.
  • Upon arriving at the premises for dining, the establishment should ensure that parties are directed to their table in a manner that respects social distancing guidelines.
  • All self-service food stations where meals need to be assembled by the customer (e.g. salad bars and buffets) are prohibited.

If you need help developing a reservation system, please contact Commerce RI.


Conduct Employee Health Screenings before every shift

Businesses are required to conduct employee screenings before every shift. Employers may supplement screening questions with temperature checks.

The Rhode Island Department of Health has published sample screening questions for businesses.

At a minimum, businesses must screen employees and visitors for self-reported symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and other COVID-19 risk factors upon entering the building.

Screenings can be conducted verbally, by app, by phone, or by another method of the employer’s choosing including, if necessary, the posting of an informational poster that communicates the screening requirements.

Employees should wear masks when it isn't possible to socially distance from someone else and entering the building.

Download, print and post the following signage

Employers are required to post information for employees. This should be posted in an area that all employees can easily see.

Provide training and guidance to employees

Establishments must designate an employee to implement and monitor for compliance with social distancing measures, sanitization, and other standards included in this guidance. This employee may be the Food Safety Manager; however, establishments may designate an alternative employee.

Establishments should institute employee training programs on these standards.