With Texarkana restaurants now allowed to begin serving indoors again, we want to share the information needed for both the restaurants re-opening and the diners that are intending to hit their favorite local eateries as soon as possible.
I want to say here at the start of this post, eat local, and have some patience.
Kudos to our locally-owned restaurants that were able to adapt to the curbside only, or delivery, and all of the scrambling they had to go through to just stay in business. Some didn’t make it through the pandemic, and a few of the ones that did are barely hanging on. Support them.
Again, as the economy opens back up and folks begin to crowd together and bunch up. We hope you will take every precaution to keep you and yours healthy. Here are the suggested guidelines for restaurants and diners in both Arkansas and Texas.
Guidelines for Restaurants in Arkansas…
Effective date: May 11, 2020
Directive on Resuming Restaurant Dine-in Operations
The Secretary of Health, in consultation with the Governor, has sole authority over all instances of
quarantine, isolation, and restrictions on commerce and travel throughout Arkansas, as necessary and
appropriate to control disease in the state of Arkansas as authorized by Ark. Code Ann. §20-7-109–
110. Based on available scientific evidence, it is necessary and appropriate to take further action to
ensure that COVID-19 remains controlled and that residents and visitors in Arkansas remain safe.
On March 20, 2020, the Secretary of Health, in consultation with the Governor, issued a directive
that food establishment and restaurant dine-in operations in the state would cease. This
directive provides guidance on resumption of dine in services of food establishments and
restaurants through a phased approach.
Dine-in service may resume; however, seating shall be limited up to 33% of total seating
capacity. This includes indoor and outdoor dining areas.
Seating shall be adjusted to maintain 10-foot physical distancing between tables so occupied
seats are six feet from seats at adjacent tables.
Reservations should be encouraged when practical. If reservations are not made,
physical distancing must be maintained when customers are waiting to be seated.
All staff who come in contact with patrons must wear a face mask that completely
covers their nose and mouth. Staff in the back are encouraged to wear a face mask.
Gloves used during food preparation should be worn in accordance with the Rules
Pertaining to Retail Food Establishments. Glove use by waitstaff and others who do
not directly contact food with their hands is optional.
Patrons must wear a face covering upon entrance and while in the restaurant until
the food or drink is served.
All staff shall be screened daily before entering the facility. Any employee with a
cough, sore throat, fever, or shortness of breath shall be immediately excluded from
Signage must be placed at the front of restaurants to alert patrons not to enter the
facility if they are sick or have symptoms such as cough, sore throat, fever, or
shortness of breath.
Monitoring of frequent handwashing and no bare-hand contact of ready-to-eat
foods by staff.
Encourage customers to pre-order meals to reduce time spent in the facility. This
includes for takeout services.
Groups shall be limited, not to exceed 10 people.
Restaurants are encouraged to have a senior hour to provide exclusive access to
these high-risk individuals.
Self-service operations, including, but not limited to, salad bars, buffets, and
condiment bars shall remain closed for patron access.
Facilities with any employee testing positive shall be reported to the Arkansas Department
of Health immediately.
Following each meal service, the tables, chairs, menus and any other frequently contacted
surfaces including, but not limited to, condiment containers, napkin holders and salt/pepper
shakers shall be cleaned and disinfected prior to seating the next customer.
o Products with an EPA-approved emerging viral pathogen claims are expected to
be effective against COVID-19. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for these
products. For a list of EPA-approved emerging pathogen sanitizers:
https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-againstsars-cov-2. (Non-food contact surfaces may be sanitized with 1/2 cup of regular,
unscented bleach per gallon of water followed by a 5-minute contact time.)
Food contact surfaces shall be sanitized in accordance with §4-501.114 of the Rules
Pertaining to Retail Food Establishments.
Single-Use items including, but not limited to, disposable silverware, condiment
packets, and straws shall be removed from public access and provided only upon
Bars and entertainment operations (such as live music, in-seat gaming devices, or
arcades) within restaurants are prohibited. Normal service of alcohol within the
restaurant seating area is allowed. This does not restrict the preparation of alcoholic
beverages in the bar area.
Restrooms and other high-touch areas shall be disinfected frequently based on
Service may be declined to patrons not wearing masks.
The above restrictions will be in place until the Secretary of Health determines epidemiological
data are sufficient to proceed to Phase 2 and then Phase 3. The requirements for Phase 2 and 3
will supersede the above-mentioned requirements. Phase 2 will include less restrictive measures
such as increasing the total available seating to 66% and opening bars and entertainment
operations while maintaining 6 feet physical distance among patrons. Phase 3 will include
returning to normal operations with full seating capacity.
Patrons in Arkansas must practice social distancing, except for family groups. Diners must wear a mask until food and beverages are delivered to your table.
Guidelines for restaurants in Texas…
Restaurants may operate for dine-in service up to 25% of the total listed occupancy inside the restaurant,
and may not offer valet services except for vehicles with placards or plates for disabled parking; outdoor
dining is not subject to an occupancy limit; and restaurant employees and contractors are not counted
towards the 25% occupancy limitation. This applies only to restaurants that have less than 51% of their
gross sales from alcoholic beverages. Restaurants may continue to provide to-go or delivery services.
The following are the minimum recommended health protocols for all restaurants choosing to operate in
Texas. Restaurants may adopt additional protocols consistent with their specific needs and circumstances to
help protect the health and safety of all employees, contractors, and customers.
The virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to others by infected persons who have few or no symptoms.
Even if an infected person is only mildly ill, the people they spread it to may become seriously ill or even die,
especially if that person is 65 or older with pre-existing health conditions that place them at higher risk.
Because of the hidden nature of this threat, everyone should rigorously follow the practices specified in these
protocols, all of which facilitate a safe and measured reopening of Texas. The virus that causes COVID-19 is
still circulating in our communities. We should continue to observe practices that protect everyone, including
those who are most vulnerable.
Please note, public health guidance cannot anticipate every unique situation. Restaurants should stay
informed and take actions based on common sense and wise judgment that will protect health and support
economic revitalization. Restaurants should also be mindful of federal and state employment and disability
laws, workplace safety standards, and accessibility standards to address the needs of both workers and
Health protocols for serving your customers:
Parties maintain at least 6 feet distance apart from other parties at all times, including while waiting to
be seated in the restaurant.
Make a hand sanitizing station available upon entry to the restaurant.
No tables of more than 6 people.
Do not leave condiments, silverware, flatware, glassware, or other traditional table top items on
an unoccupied table
Provide condiments only upon request, and in single use (non-reusable) portions.
Use disposable menus (new for each patron)
If a buffet is offered, restaurant employees serve the food to customers.
Contactless payment is encouraged. Where not available, contact should be minimized.
Health protocols for your employees and contractors:
Train all employees and contractors on appropriate cleaning and disinfection, hand hygiene, and
Screen employees and contractors before coming into the restaurant:
Send home any employee or contractor who has any of the following new or worsening signs or
symptoms of possible COVID-19:
– Shortness of breath or difficulty
– Repeated shaking with chills
– Muscle pain
– Sore throat
– Loss of taste or smell
– Feeling feverish or a measured temperature
greater than or equal to 100.0 degrees
– Known close contact with a person who is lab
confirmed to have COVID-19
Do not allow employees or contractors with new or worsening signs or symptoms listed above
to return to work until:
– In the case of an employee or contractor who was diagnosed with COVID-19, the individual
may return to work when all three of the following criteria are met: at least 3 days (72
hours) have passed since recovery (resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing
medications); and the individual has improvement in symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of
breath); and at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared; or
– In the case of an employee or contractor who has symptoms that could be COVID-19 and
does not get evaluated by a medical professional or tested for COVID-19, the individual is
assumed to have COVID-19, and the individual may not return to work until the individual
has completed the same three-step criteria listed above; or
– If the employee or contractor has symptoms that could be COVID-19 and wants to return to
work before completing the above self-isolation period, the individual must obtain a medical
professional’s note clearing the individual for return based on an alternative diagnosis.
Do not allow an employee or contractor with known close contact to a person who is labconfirmed to have COVID-19 to return to work until the end of the 14 day self-quarantine period
from the last date of exposure (with an exception granted for healthcare workers and critical
Have employees and contractors wash or sanitize their hands upon entering the restaurant, and
between interactions with customers.
Have employees and contractors maintain at least 6 feet separation from other individuals. If such
distancing is not feasible, measures such as face covering, hand hygiene, cough etiquette, cleanliness,
and sanitation should be rigorously practiced
Consistent with the actions taken by many restaurants across the state, consider having all employees
and contractors wear cloth face coverings (over the nose and mouth). If available, employees and
contractors should consider wearing non-medical grade face masks.
Health protocols for your facilities:
Consider having an employee or contractor manage and control access to the restaurant, including
opening doors to prevent patrons from touching door handles.
Regularly and frequently clean and disinfect any regularly touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, tables,
Regularly and frequently clean restrooms, and document the cleanings.
Disinfect any items that come into contact with customers.
Make hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, soap and water, or similar disinfectant readily available to
employees, contractors, and customers.
Place readily visible signage at the restaurant to remind everyone of best hygiene practices.
Clean and disinfect the area used for dining (table, etc.) after each group of customers depart,
including the disinfecting of tables, chairs, stalls, and countertops.
Clean and sanitize restaurants daily.
For restaurants with more than 10 employees and/or contractors present at one time, consider having
an individual wholly or partially dedicated to ensuring the health protocols adopted by the restaurant
are being successfully implemented and followed.
Among the guidelines set for Texas patrons, Maintain at least 6 feet separation from other individuals not within the same party. If such distancing is not feasible, other measures such as face-covering when not sitting at the table, hand hygiene, cough etiquette, cleanliness, and sanitation should be rigorously practiced.
Be sure to CALL AHEAD, to make sure your favorite restaurant is open, some may be staying with curbside a little longer until their staffs can get back to work… and be patient! We are all learning as we go.