Reopening Ohio: Some seats empty, some occupied as dine-in service resumes at restaurants

CENTERVILLE — UPDATE @ 11:40 p.m.: Managers eager to reopen their restaurants to dine-in service did so Thursday night, some to a good number of customers and some not so much.

Customers didn’t turn out at Chiapas in Centerville.

“Some people, they are scared and they don’t want to come out from house, they want to keep getting carryout orders and want to stay safe,” manager Samy Gonzalez told News Center 7′s Monica Castro.

At Flying Pizza in Dayton, co-owner Tony Graci said customers followed the rules on social distancing and that made him happy.

Management at other Dayton restaurants -- What Penny, Thai 9 and Lock 27 Brewing to name a few -- said they wanted to give things a few more weeks before they reopen.


Indoor dining at Ohio restaurants is allowed to resume today, about one week after the state first allowed outdoor dining to restart.

>>Coronavirus: Local restaurants are ready to reopen indoor dining for customers

Based on recommendations from customers, staff, and local leaders, these openings will come with a new set of guidelines:

  • Parties must be separated by six feet, or a physical barrier (physical barrier options: High booth back, plexiglass wall, etc.)
  • No more than 10 people may be seated as part of one party
  • An elevated cleaning and sanitizing schedule for all surfaces that staff and customers contact should be created and executed.
  • Customers are encouraged to call ahead to make dine-in reservations.
  • Food establishments should use mobile ordering and payments where possible to reduce hand contact.
  • Workers will be expected to handwash frequently; not all will be expected to wear gloves (According to professionals, this practice can be counterproductive in stopping the spread of the virus)
  • Open congregate areas will remain closed for the time being, like dance floors and activity spaces; however, these areas can be used to place booths to help with social distancing
  • The use of no-touch entrances and exits are suggested, as well as separate entrances and exits where possible
  • Instead of using containers for condiments to be used by multiple customers, restaurants should use single packets or cups
  • Bars pose a unique challenge, as nearly the entire facility is considered an “open congregate area.” If individual bars are to open, they will need to find a way to follow these guidelines.
  • It will be up to the individual bar or restaurant whether or not to require masks, though given the nature of the businesses, it will likely not be required for a customer’s entire visit.

Full details on the state’s mandatory requirements and recommended best practices can be found here, through Ohio’s coronavirus website.

Some cities are allowing restaurants to expand outside dining. Huber Heights announced that they will be allowing restaurants to use sidewalks and parking lots as extended dining areas. Dayton will not be approving any permits for expanded outside dining.

>> Coronavirus: Dayton won’t close streets to expand patio dining, Mayor Whaley says

Lt. Gov. Husted added that these restrictions will be “strictly enforced," as they cannot let one “bad apple” lead to a potential flare up of the virus.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley remarked on the announcement via Twitter.