Updated Restaurant Requirements & FAQs on Bar Seating

September 24, 2020
Massachusetts Restaurant Association
A number of questions have been asked in the last 24 hours. While not all questions have been clarified by the state, please see below for the answers to a number of frequently asked questions.
Q). Where does plexiglass need to be installed for the purpose of bar seating?
A). While the ABCC is expected to issue clarifying guidance soon, according to our reading: the bartender only needs to be behind plexiglass if there is an "active working area" i.e. service bar less than 6 feet away.
  • This would include any drink pouring, bottle opening, fruit cutting or assembly, or any other production related activities.
  • If the guest is seated within 6 feet of a production area, or where glassware is stored, then plexiglass would be required, as specified in the regulation.
  • If production area is more than 6 feet away, plexiglass would not be required.
  • Bartenders are permitted to serve guests from behind the bar in the same way that waitstaff are currently allowed to serve guests.
Q). Can I use plexiglass between guests in lieu of 6 feet apart while sitting at the bar?
A). This answer has not yet been clarified by the state.
Q). Can I reopen my pool tables?
A). Yes, pool tables may be open if adhering to posted safety protocols. However, active use of pool tables and other games is not permitted in areas where food is being served. Guests must eat and drink while seated at tables, not while playing pool and other games.
We will continue to update as more questions get asked and answered.
*************************************Yesterday's Update**************************************************
Massachusetts updates certain restaurant requirements

New Restaurant Standards go into effect on Monday September 28:
including increased table size, bar seating and reusable menus in new regulation announced today.
Table size will increase from 6 to 10 guests per table
Bar seating
  • Bar seating is permitted provided that either: 
  • There are no active work areas or working staff behind the bar at least 6 ft away; or 
  • There is a physical barrier (e.g. Plexiglas) separating customers from the bar space that is at least 30 inches high and a gap/opening at the bottom of the barrier is allowed for food and drink service as long as the gap/opening is no more than 8 inches high
  • In addition, parties must be seated at bars (no standing customer service) and parties must be spaced at least 6 ft from other parties 
  • Subject to any applicable building and fire code requirements, bar areas may be reconfigured to accommodate table seating that complies with all spacing and other requirements in these COVID-19 safety standards. Tables must not be placed within 6 feet of the staffed bartending area.
  • All customers must be seated; eat-in service to standing customers (e.g., around bar areas) is prohibited
Pool Tables other recreation amenities
  • Recreation amenities which are allowed to open in Step 1 of Phase III (such as arcade games) may be open if adhering to all safety protocols in the Arcades & Other Indoor & Outdoor Game & Recreation Businesses including the requirement that active use of pool tables and other games involving patrons not seated at tables is not permitted in areas where food service is provided.
  • Menus must be one of the following: 1) paper, single-use menus disposed after each use, 2) displayed menu (e.g., digital, whiteboard, chalkboard), 3) electronic menus viewed on customers’ phones / mobile devices, or 4) laminated reusable menus sanitized between each use.
Complete Guidance
Direct to Guidance: