As of June 22, restaurants in Boston are allowed to reopen under “Step II” of the phase two protocol, which means that we’re allowed to eat both on an outdoor patio and inside a restaurant again - as long as everyone is following a lengthy set of rules. You can feel free to read those rules in all their bureaucratic glory on this website.
But since we know there’s not enough coffee on this planet to get you through pages of government-speak, we’re going to unpack the most important info below to better understand what eating at a restaurant looks like right now.
Do I have to wear a mask?
Yes. All customers have to wear a mask (unless they have a medical condition or disability), but you can remove the mask once you’re seated at a table.
Does the restaurant staff have to wear masks?
Yes. Every single restaurant employee is required to wear a mask, so just assume everyone is smiling politely at you for being such an understanding, patient customer.
How many people can I bring with me?
Parties of six are the maximum table size allowed right now, even if you are all from the same family.
What are the capacity limits for indoor dining?
Unlike other states, Massachusetts has not set maximum capacity limits. Instead, all tables must just be six feet apart, or separated by non-porous barriers like plexiglass.
Can I sit at the bar?
Well, kind of. Technically, restaurants can’t seat customers at the bar. But if the bar has been reconfigured as “table seating,” then you can actually sit there. How’s that for semantics?
How are restaurants improving air circulation?
If you’re dining in, you might notice the temperature being a little warmer than usual. Restaurants have been encouraged to open doors and windows where possible to help with interior air flow.
Do I have to make a reservation?
We’d recommend it as restaurants aren’t currently allowed to have areas for people to congregate or wait in line, but not every place will be taking reservations either.
What else are restaurants doing to ensure a sanitary environment?
In order to reopen, every restaurant has to submit its proposed outdoor seating plan to the state. That means that all tables have to be at least six feet apart, or have a protective barrier between them. Employees have to wash their hands frequently, and servers have to do so between every table they visit. Hand sanitizer will be available at every entrance and exit point. Menus have to be single-use or displayed on a screen, chalkboard, or made available online for mobile devices. And lastly, tables and chairs also have to be sanitized before a new party can sit down.
Will I have to get my temperature taken before I sit down?
No, no one will be pointing an electronic thermometer at your forehead on the way to the table. While restaurant employees are required to take their own temperature before every shift, you won’t have to. But, obviously, if you’re experiencing any symptoms at all, please stay home.
When will restaurants be open for indoor dining?
Indoor dining will be reserved for the later part of phase two, but no date has been set for that yet. We do know that each phase of the reopening plan will last at least three weeks, but there’s a lot of uncertainty with timing.
I don’t think I’m ready to eat out yet, but I still want to support restaurants. How can I do that?
We definitely understand - restaurants will still continue to offer delivery and takeout at this time. We’ve already published a bunch of takeout-specific guides, with everything from The Lobster Roll Delivery & Takeout Guide to Where To Get Italian Delivery & Takeout. We’re keeping them updated so you can still support the restaurants you love during these times.
I have a different question.
Feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can figure out where to get a haircut. But the best and easiest way to get clear, fast answers about a restaurant is to just call that restaurant directly. They’ll be happy to chat. Just be patient, understanding, and kind. These are weird times, and we’re all trying to adjust safely.