All information in this COVID-19 Response Resource issue is effective as of June 2, 2020.

On May 15, 2020, Utah’s Governor Herbert issued an Order stating that the COVID-19 public health risk status would move from orange (moderate risk) to yellow (low risk) for many Utah counties beginning Saturday, May 16. However, pursuant to another Order issued on May 29, 2020, three areas in Utah remain in the orange moderate risk category. Those areas are: Salt Lake City, the town of Bluff, and the census-designated place Mexican Hat.[1] The Order from May 29 superseded prior orders and is in effect until June 5, 2020 at 11:59pm. Notably, areas can request a modification to their status (e.g., to go from orange to yellow), and some areas have been moved from yellow to orange after further evaluation.

The risk-levels and respective safety measures to be taken by employers and employees are detailed in version 4.5 of the Utah Department of Health’s Phased Guidelines for the General Public and Businesses to Maximize Public Health and Economic Reactivation (“Phased Guidelines”). It is important to recognize that the May 29 Order requires businesses to comply with the provisions of the Phased Guidelines that correspond to the risk level of the area they operate in (i.e., businesses in low risk areas must comply with the Phased Guidelines for low risk areas). However, where the Phased Guidelines state that an employee should wear a face mask, the Order appears to modify that requirement so that an employee must only wear a face mask when the employee “is unable to maintain a distance of six feet from another individual.”[2]

In addition, to assist employers with protecting employees who are high-risk[3] for COVID-19, the Utah Labor Commission has also issued guidance for developing safety measures in the workplace. The Phased Guidelines and the guidance from the Labor Commission provide general as well as industry-specific measures.

This memorandum provides the industry-specific guidelines for restaurants in Utah’s low and moderate risk areas. For a breakdown of general guidelines that apply to all industries in addition to the specific guidelines provided here, review page 11 of the Phased Guidelines and pages 2–3 of the Labor Commission’s guidance.


This section covers food service establishments, including restaurants, bars, food trucks and convenience stores,[4] in both moderate and low risk areas, as the guidelines are the same, with the following exceptions: (1) in moderate risk areas, takeout, curbside pickup, or delivery options are encouraged. Dine-in services are not recommended but allowed when extreme precautions are taken, including strict adherence to physical distancing and monitoring staff for symptoms of COVID-19; and (2) in low risk areas, dine-in services and bars may be open but tables should be arranged so there is physical distance between diners, and customers and staff should exercise increased hygiene.[5] The Phased Guidelines further recommend:

(1) For dine-in services, including buffets and bars:

(a) Provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for employees, including EPA-approved disinfectants and sanitizers, soap and other necessary cleaning supplies – Chlorine (bleach) at 100-200 ppm is recommended.[6]

(b) Staff must use gloves when handling ready-to-eat foods (including ice) but do not need to use gloves when handling foods that will be cooked;

(c) Place hand sanitizer at the entrance and immediately adjacent to bathrooms;

(d) Post signs at entry:

(i) Outlining COVID-19 symptoms and asking customers to order take out if they or someone they live with has experienced symptoms; and

(ii) Recommending that high-risk individuals order takeout or delivery

(e) Have hosts open the entrance doors for customers, point them to signs about symptoms and high-risk individuals, and guide customers to seats;

(f) Limit tables to 10 people and ask that only individuals in the same household sit at the same table;

(g) Ensure that patrons maintain a six-foot distance from others not at their table at all times;

(h) Maintain a six-foot distance between parties in waiting areas regardless of whether the waiting area is inside or outside – add floor markings to waiting areas to remind customers of distancing requirements;

(i) Post signs to remind customers to stand six feet apart from people in other parties;

(j) Ask each employee if any member of the employee’s house has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days and take each employee’s temperature before each shift. Keep a log of such information for inspection by the local health officer;

(k) Ensure that staff wear face coverings at all times and wash or sanitize hands between interactions with each table;

(l) Set tables only after customers are seated;

(m) Give cups, lids, napkins and straws directly from staff to customers;

(n) Use contactless payment options – if not possible, sanitize payment stations after each use. Sanitize hands between handling payments and food containers;

(o) Avoid touching items on table (menus, plates, utensils, pens, etc.) and designate one staff member to clear tables when customers have left the table;

(p) Dedicate a staff member to sanitize areas occupied by customers when the customers leave, including tables, menus, pens, condiment containers, etc.

(q) Use disposable items if necessary;

(r) Close the restaurant morning, afternoon, and evening for disinfecting all tables, chairs, door handles, floors, bathrooms and any other high-touch surfaces;

(s) Stagger workstations so that employees are six feet apart and do not face each other unless barriers are used or face coverings are worn;

(t) Treat paper products that touch food as food (e.g., to-go boxes, paper cups, etc.);

(u) Keep indoor playgrounds closed; and

(v) Self-serve and buffet restaurants must provide utensils and other service items from the counter where food is ordered; no service items should be available to the public – a staff member must serve meals from the buffet to limit exposure and customers must stay six feet away from the food serving area.[7]

(2) For take-out services:

(a) Conduct symptom checks on employees;

(b) Provide PPE for employees, such as face coverings, gloves, hair nets and overalls. Face coverings must be worn when a six-foot distance is difficult to maintain;

(c) Stagger workstations so that employees are six feet apart and do not face each other unless barriers are used or face coverings are worn;

(d) Disinfect payment terminals between customers if contactless payment is not possible;

(e) Ensure that drivers delivering food to homes use hand sanitizer before passing food to customers;

(f) Provide disposal containers that do not need to be returned; and

(g) Ask customers to provide contact information to assist with contact tracing efforts.[8]


To protect high-risk employees of restaurants, the Labor Commission recommends that employers:

(1) Provide disposable plates, utensils, cups, etc. to the extent possible;

(2) Provide electronic or disposable menus, or laminate menus and disinfect between each use;

(3) Disinfect and clean tables and chairs after each use;

(4) Assign high-risk employees to low-exposure positions with non-customer facing tasks;

(5) Assign low-risk employees to higher-exposure positions, such as busing tables and housekeeping in public areas; and

(6) Have staff wear face masks while in the restaurant and kitchen.[9]

To ensure compliance with the Governor’s Order; the Phased Guidelines; and the Labor Commission’s guidance, it is strongly recommended that employers seek legal advice prior to re-opening or requiring employees to return to the workplace.

For questions, please contact Christina Jepson by sending an email to or calling 801-536-6820.


[1] (last visited June 1, 2020).

[2] (last visited June 1, 2020).

[3]  High risk individuals include those who are 65 or older; live in a nursing home or long-term care facility; have chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma; have serious heart conditions; are immunocompromised; are severely obese or have underlying medical conditions such as diabetes or liver disease; or are pregnant. Pregnant women have not been shown to be at higher risk for COVID-19, specifically, but are “known to be at risk with severe viral illness.” (last visited June 1, 2020).

[4] Please note that the guidelines for convenience stores is found under the industry-specific guidelines for both retail establishments and restaurants. To see the guidelines for retail establishments, view pages 13–14 of the Phased Guidelines.

[5] (last visited June 1, 2020).

[6] To obtain PPE from Utah vendors, see this spreadsheet of vendors that is maintained by the state.

[7] (last visited June 1, 2020).

[8] (last visited June 1, 2020).

[9] (last visited June 1, 2020).