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7 Things Restaurant Servers Are No Longer Allowed to Do

Don't expect them to make too much small talk.

With some states moving to reopen stores and restaurants amid the coronavirus pandemic, you might be wondering how to stay safe while supporting local businesses. Of course, it's a good idea to keep practicing social distancing measures, wearing a face mask while in public, and staying home if you can. But not everyone will follow those guidelines, and restaurants are putting new rules into place for people who decide to dine out.

For those restaurants and bars that are in the process of reopening, the CDC has a set of guidelines for keeping employees and customers safe. Here are some things you might not see restaurant servers do again, at least not anytime soon. And for more restaurant news, sign up for our newsletter to get daily recipes and food news in your inbox!

Greet you without wearing a face mask

Waiter playing favorites with a customer as they order.

The CDC guidelines note that restaurant employees should be "wearing a cloth face covering as feasible." Presumably, this extends to waiters and hostesses—you'll be talking to them in fairly close quarters.

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Show up to work sick

Waiter and guest

While it's not ideal for anyone involved, many essential workers have gone to work while feeling under the weather, often because they couldn't afford to take the day off. But with the CDC's new guidelines in place, that may not be possible. The CDC recommends testing employees for "signs and symptoms" of illness upon their arrival at the restaurant, so there's a lower chance you'll be served by someone who isn't in good health. Fortunately, the CDC also encourages restaurants to implement "flexible leave policies" so that workers won't be punished for taking a sick day.

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Set your table before you sit down

It might feel fancy to take a seat and already have your fork, knife, and spoon displayed on the sides of your plate. But that also leaves room for any airborne germs to make their way onto your cutlery. The National Restaurant Association's reopening guidelines suggest "using rolled silverware and eliminating table presets."

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Touch their face

Waiter handing out cake to guests.

Yes, you've been told not to touch your own face, and the same is true for everyone else. The National Restaurant Association's guidelines encourage restaurant managers and owners to give employees "clear instruction to avoid touching hands to face."

Eat lunch with each other

Waiters hands full

The National Restaurant Association's guidelines encourage restaurants to "limit the number of employees allowed simultaneously in break rooms." So coworkers might not be able to all sit together and eat lunch (or dinner) in the back of the restaurant.

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Make small talk

Waiter pouring glass wine at restaurant

This isn't a set-in-stone rule, but you shouldn't be surprised if your server is a bit less friendly with you in the future. The National Restaurant Association guidelines encourage restaurants to "limit contact between wait staff and guests," so servers might not be standing by your table for as long as they used to.

Refill your water or tea from a shared pitcher

Water pitcher

While it's not in the CDC's guidelines, it stands to reason that shared pitches are a thing of the past. In the same way that you can't bring a reusable cup to Starbucks, eliminating the pitcher decreases the risk of your germs being passed on to someone else. Instead, expect to see your server bring you a refill in a fresh cup.

And for more ways the restaurant landscape is changing, don't miss these 7 Things in Restaurants You'll Never See Again.

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.
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