Update: Miami-Dade County has limited all restaurants to outdoor seating only. The rule goes into effect on July 8. Read more about it here.
As of May 27, all restaurants within Miami-Dade County are allowed to reopen under phase one protocol, which essentially means that we’re allowed to eat inside (or outside) restaurants 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 starting on page 42 of this document from Miami-Dade County.
But we understand if there’s not enough coffee on this planet to get you through 12 pages of government-speak. So 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. County guidelines state that customers must wear masks as they enter and exit restaurants. Phase one rules initially said that guests could take their masks off once seated, but in light of rising cases, the Miami-Dade mayor released a new set of rules, including a 10pm curfew and an order for customers to keep masks on until their food arrives. “If you are waiting for your meal at a restaurant table,” the statement says, “keep your mask on while having a conversation with those around you.”
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.
What else are restaurants doing to ensure a sanitary environment?
Most of the incredibly dense county guidelines involve sanitary protocol. Pretty much every employee is required to wash their hands at least every 30 minutes, and servers will have to wash their hands every time they come into physical contact with guests or their food. Tables and chairs are to be wiped down after each party’s use and every entrance should have self-dispensing hand sanitizer. While a lot of it will be less noticeable, there will also be things like disposable menus, single-use condiments, and you’ll have to pour your own wine.
Will I have to get my temperature taken before I’m seated?
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.
How crowded will restaurants be?
Imagine a crowded restaurant. Now subtract that by 50%. That’s about as busy as any place is allowed to get right now under phase one rules. The 50% capacity limitation is meant to allow enough room for social distancing and ensures tables can be at least six feet apart from each other.
Do I have to make a reservation?
Maybe, maybe not. Chances are that if you had to make a reservation pre-lockdown (for example, at a place like KYU), you should make one now. But limited dining capacity means that even restaurants where you could always get a table will fill up quicker than before. Just to be sure, pretend like it’s 1995 again and call them on the phone. Restaurants will be happy to let you know whether or not you need a reservation.
How many people can I bring with me?
Parties of four are the maximum size allowed at this point, but you can have a party of six as long as you all live together in the same house.
Can I sit outside?
Sitting outside will be an option at a lot of places, even if they never previously had outdoor seating. The county has relaxed its permitting rules and is letting restaurants set up tables outside if they have room to socially distance properly. Of course not everywhere is going to have outdoor tables, so if sitting outside is very important to you, call ahead to see if it’s an option. We also have a guide to Miami Restaurants With Outdoor Seating, which you might find useful.
When will bars open?
We don’t really know right now. They’re part of the next phase of openings, and Miami-Dade County hasn’t given a concrete date on when that will happen.
I don’t think I’m ready to eat out yet, but I still want to support restaurants. How can I do that?
We totally get that. Since it’s very hard for a restaurant to succeed at just 50% capacity, many of them will continue to do takeout and delivery as well. We’ve already published a bunch of takeout-specific guides, with everything from Where To Get Sushi Takeout & Delivery to the Best Delivery & Takeout For Your Birthday. We’ll keep them updated so you can still support the restaurants you love through delivery and takeout.
You didn’t answer my question.
Sorry about that. But in our defense, we couldn’t hear you because we are currently alone in our kitchen/office with a very unhelpful cat. If you have a question for us, you can always reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.