As some restaurants begin to cautiously open their doors to dine-in customers, and as bars begin to reopen this week for the first time in months, there are (understandably) a lot of questions.

And though we're all itching to get back to "normal," we want to encourage you to keep acting out of an abundance of caution. Keep wearing your mask. Keep your distance. Order to-go if possible.

But if you do decide to visit a reopening restaurant, here are the latest regulations from the Arkansas Department of Health. 

Note: These regulations are subject to change. Click here for the most up-to-date info from the ADH.


Rules for In-House Dining:

  • Seating is limited up to 33% of total seating capacity, including indoor and outdoor dining areas.
  • Seating must maintain 10 feet of physical distancing between tables so that occupied seats are six feet from seats at neighboring 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 facemask.
  • 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 must be screened daily before entering the facility. Any employee with a cough, sore throat, fever or shortness of breath will be immediately excluded from the facility.
  • 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.
  • Customers are encouraged to pre-order meals to reduce time spent in the facility, including takeout services.
  • Groups will be limited and cannot 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 — will 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 — will be cleaned and disinfected with EPA-approved emerging pathogen sanitizers prior to seating the next customer. 
  • Food contact surfaces will be sanitized in accordance with the Rules Pertaining to Retail Food Establishments.
  • Single-use items — including, but not limited to, disposable silverware, condiment packets and straws — will be removed from public access and provided only upon request.
  • Bars housed within restaurants are now allowed to operate, effective May 19, so long as physical distancing of six feet between individuals is maintained.
  • Entertainment operations within restaurants (such as live music, in-seat gaming or arcades) are permitted, effective May 19. Entertainment involving performers, such as live music or singing, will follow these requirements:
  • The performers or players must be separated from the audience by at least 12 feet and must be limited in number to 50 or fewer.
  • Performers or players may be without a face covering if they are 12 feet from other persons, including other performers.
  • In-seat gaming, arcades, billiards and other games that patrons physically touch should be disinfected between each use.
  • Restrooms and other high-touch areas will be disinfected frequently based on customer volume.
  • Service may be declined to patrons not wearing masks.


If you're still all about that curbside life, here's a guide to which restaurants are offering to-go services.