As Ohio Valley States Relax Guidelines, Dine-In Service at Restaurants Restarts

May 21, 2020

Credit Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

Indoor dining at restaurants across the Ohio Valley is “reopening” under new guidelines. Kentucky, and West Virginia are requiring these businesses to at least temporarily reduce maximum occupancy, among other social distancing recommendations. 

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has set out the most stringent requirements and suggestions for food service of the three states. Restaurants in Kentucky cannot exceed 33 percent of their maximum occupancy. Additionally,  Beshear has suggested that people not living in the same household should not be permitted to sit at the same table.

Kentucky Restaurant Association President Stacy Roof said requiring reduced capacity is a challenge, and places with outdoor seating will have an easier time than those without it. 

“Restaurants are successful in volume,” she said. “They’re typically making less than five cents on a dollar, so turning those tables is key to earning money.”

Roof said some restaurants will likely wait to reopen until they’re allowed to fill more tables and serve more customers. 

Abby Cobb, a shift manager at Lost River Pizza in Bowling Green, Ky., said while she hopes people will follow social distancing guidelines and do their part to keep everyone healthy and safe, she has some concerns. 

“I’m just afraid that some people may still come in that have been exposed to the virus, but I mean that’s normal to be just afraid and a little nervous about it,” she said.   

Cobb said she thinks the restaurant has had enough time to prepare for the new requirements. 

West Virginia is reducing in-person dining to 50 percent of a building’s maximum occupancy. Ohio doesn’t have any capacity restrictions, but is limiting parties to ten people or less.