COVID-19 - Re-Opening

LAST UPDATED: May 26, 2020

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.

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COVID-19 Reopening Supplies

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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:

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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

No later than May 18, 2020: Develop COVID-19 Response Plan

A business must develop a written COVID-19 Control Plan outlining how its workplace will prevent the spread of COVID-19. A business may fill out this template to fulfill the requirement that it complete a COVID-19 Control Plan.

If you have questions, please ask them by emailing: This plan does not need to be submitted to a state agency for approval but must be retained on the premises of the business and must made available to the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) in the event of an inspection or outbreak.

Download a template here.

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.

Develop system for tracking customer names and contact information

Restaurants are required to keep a record of the name and contact information 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.

Develop system for taking reservations

During Phase 1, restaurants that are opening for outdoor dining must be reservation only. Walk in customers are not allowed.

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.

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.