State Fire Marshal Releases Restaurant Guidelines to Open

Posted: Apr 30, 2020, 7:44 PM

Governor John Bel Edwards’ COVID-19 Proclamation JBE will be released May 1 revealing strict standards for all restaurants and food services that provide outdoor patio venues.

State Fire Marshal Butch Browning said restaurants must adhere to these mitigation standards designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. General operating procedures will require spacing of groups, limiting concentration of people, strict use of personal protective equipment (PPE), and frequent sanitizing.

Existing approved outdoor seating areas, that includes balcony and rooftop, must maintain operating features per state approved occupancy load for the building (NFPA 101 Life Safety Code). The following modifications have been made and 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; and, eliminate gatherings in the building when entering or exiting 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. Also, the following conditions are required:

** Two remotely located exits if barriers (fences, barricades, etc.) exist;  capacity based on 110 square feet per person of the gross area (25% space to be occupied); tables must be spaced a minimum of 10 feet from each other (measured from all edges of the table); table groups will be limited to 10 individuals; a state approved fire extinguisher must be within 75 feet of tent area; and a minimum 7-foot 6-inch head room (ceiling height).

According to Louisiana Department of Health guidelines, restaurant employees should wear cloth face coverings while working.

Guidelines for cleaning outdoor dining areas include:

** Clean the area or item with soap and water or another detergent if it is dirty. Then, use disinfectant. High touch surfaces to disinfect include: doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, sinks, etc. Tables, chairs, and seats should be cleaned after every customer.

Use of EPA-registered household disinfectant is recommended. Follow the instructions on the label to ensure safe and effective use of the product. Many products recommend keeping surface wet for a period of time (see product label); precautions include wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.

Diluted household bleach solutions may also be used if appropriate for the surface. Check the label to see if the bleach is intended for disinfection, and ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Some bleaches, such as those designed for safe use on colored clothing or for whitening may not be suitable for disinfection.

Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.
Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Leave solution on the surface for at least one minute.

To make a bleach solution, mix five tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water, or  four teaspoons bleach per quart of water. Alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol may also be used.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. Can I set tents or open areas outside of the existing building foot print? Yes. but subject to local or parish ordinances.
  2. Can I operate in a city or parish that prohibits me to open? No. Local jurisdictions can be more restrictive.
  3. If guests order bottled alcohol at counter service can it be opened for them? No.
  4. Can I provide a cocktail (mixed drink) as part of my alcohol license on premises? Yes.
  5. Can I provide restroom services inside my restaurant? Yes, you are allowed to.
  6. Does a counter order include pick-up for a phone order and the direct ordering of food at the counter? Yes.
  7. 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.
  8. Are guests required to wear masks? No, however the public is strongly encouraged to wear face coverings when in public.
  9. What are the responsibilities of providing social distancing on the patio when there is no table staff? Owner/operator will still manage property as normal and ensure seating layouts and procedures are followed or otherwise cease service.