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Restaurant photo
Photograph: Unsplash/Jay Wennington

Masks are now required at Miami restaurants, plus more new dining guidelines you should know

Read this before heading to your first public dining experience.

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Update: As of 7/3, you'll have to keep your masks on while seated at the table, removing it only to eat and drink. If you are waiting for your meal at a restaurant table, keep your mask on while having a conversation with those around you.

Miami-Dade County restaurants were allowed to reopen in phase one today, but dining rooms will likely look a little different than what we’re used to. From erecting pods to separate customers to expanding outdoor seating to help with social distancing, operators are adapting quickly to the mayor’s guidelines for reopening. Still, some of the burdens fall on consumers who need to abide by their own set of rules when visiting a restaurant. We’ll spare you the mayor’s lengthy and very detailed list of requirements, which most address how operators will keep you safe, and offer up the cliff notes that apply to you, the customer. Ready to dine out again? Here’s how to do it the right way.

Make reservations
Restaurants can’t exceed 50-percent of their indoor capacity, which includes employees. Most places, if not all, won’t be accepting walk-ins so plan ahead or risk being turned away.

Wear a mask
Customers must wear a mask at all times unless they’re seated and, of course, eating. This means wearing one on your way in as well as when you’re through dining and making your way out.

Keep it intimate
Parties greater than 10 will not be allowed to dine together unless they all reside in the same household. In most cases, tables of four will be the maximum allowed, especially indoors. 

Be vigilant
Employees must be wearing masks (and gloves if they’re handling food or working back-of-house). If you see someone not following the rules, you should file a citizen’s report with the county, which can easily be done online.

Prepare for bare tablescapes
Wine and water glasses will no longer be part of a restaurant’s table setting, and silverware will either be rolled up in a napkin or be disposable. Basically, expect the same preparedness as you would from your dentist, where everything is either sanitized and wrapped or made for single-use purposes. 

You’ll have to ask for things you used to expect
Bread baskets, condiments and other things you were used to seeing on your table when you sat down will need to be requested and brought out. 

Sanitize your hands
Touchless hand sanitizing stations will be installed at the entrance of all restaurants, cruise-ship–style. Make sure to use it on your way in and out.

No more pocketing the mints
Remember the freebies you stashed in your pocket while leaving a restaurant? Things like toothpicks, mints and candy will no longer be available a the host stand. You might get a wrapped candy at the table, but that’s about it.

Be on time, but don’t be early
Speaking of the host stand, loitering around will not be allowed nor will waiting for your table nearby. Kill time in your car and make your way inside when it’s your turn to prevent unnecessary overcrowding. There won’t be a bar for you to sidle up to and wait either. Just stay in your car.  

Checks will look different
You won’t get a check presenter with your bill, though the alternative hasn’t been specified yet. Perhaps we’ll go the European route where a server flashes the total and rings you up tableside on a wireless credit card machine. Either way, all payments moving forward to be cashless.

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