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6 Things That Will Get You Kicked Out of Restaurants After Reopening

As restaurants reopen, eating becomes a community effort. Here's how to be a team player.

In our post-pandemic world, shoes and a shirt aren't all you need to dine anymore. That's right: the country is chugging towards new phases of reopening, and, while each state is moving at its own pace, one thing is consistent: eating out will look a lot different. As a patron, you'll be welcomed and encouraged to enjoy restaurants again. But, in the name of safety, management could turn you away for violating any number of new boundaries, which yes, could cause you to get kicked out during numerous restaurants reopening.

Specific laws on a restaurant's right to refuse service varies by state. However, court precedent has established that, generally, a customer can be removed in any situation where their conduct is "contrary to the public welfare." Number one on the public welfare list right now? Keeping each other healthy.

So, before your favorite grub-spot reopens, check out our compilation of reasons a restaurant could kick you out. And as new rules emerge, remember: restaurants are obligated to apply their policies equally to all patrons. Especially if people aren't following these CDC restaurant guidelines.

Not wearing a face mask.

Waiter with protective medical mask and gloves serving guest with coffee at an outdoor bar café or restaurant new normal concept reopening after quarantine

For all foreseeable dinner dates of the future, a mask is just as necessary as your wallet. In New York state, Governor Cuomo plans to sign an executive order that will allow businesses to deny entry to anyone not wearing a mask or face covering. Even in areas where executive orders haven't been signed, you could still be asked to leave in the interest of public welfare.

Not following social distancing protocol.

busy restaurant

During the process of eating out, there's an opportunity to social distance at every junction. Waiting to be seated? Stand six feet from other groups. Seating yourself? Make sure to choose a designated spot. Many restaurants are having fun with their safe-seat assignments, like this spot in Thailand, which is helping customers find a socially-distant booth by using cardboard dragon cutouts.

Bringing too many friends.

Large dinner party restaurant

Before blasting your entire group chat with an invite, double-check the number of people allowed to group in your area. While that number is constantly evolving in many places, make things easier on yourself, your friends, and restaurant management by staying up to date and not exceeding the government-advised limit at meals.

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Smoking or vaping.

Man Smoking On Bright Sunny Day Outdoor

While smoking and vaping in restaurants is already illegal in most states, it may be a good idea to hold off on puff-puffing in public in all areas until COVID-19 is contained. The World Health Organization released information on their website encouraging smokers to quit now for a variety of coronavirus-related reasons, but was also very clear that if you continue to smoke, you must take extra caution to "protect others from the harms of second-hand smoke."

Exceeding the time limit.


Time limits were already allowed at restaurants, but in order to maximize service during the pandemic, more restaurants are utilizing them. When wrapping up dessert, don't dally—the time limits are a tool to help restaurants make the most of their new, mandated, limited seating capacities. Plus, as more restaurants are relying on reservations to help manage their traffic flow, you may be asked to leave simply because the next res is on deck. Which brings up another point about being a team-player while eating out these days: in a time where every dollar matters for the restaurant industry, don't ghost your reservation.

If you have flu-like symptoms (coughing, sweating, or sneezing).

Hand holding thermometer

Intentionally spreading the virus can put you behind bars, so going to a restaurant while exhibiting symptoms could definitely be grounds for removal. In Hong Kong, temperature checks are in place before customers are allowed to dine. Since we aren't there yet, if you have any suspicion that you could be sick, stay home.

When the eagerly-anticipated return of eating out is finally upon us, make it easier (and avoid getting kicked out!) by adhering to the above. In the meantime, though, prepare for your return to restaurants by setting up contactless payment. Recommended by the CDC, contactless payment will pave the way for a less-germy future, in restaurants and beyond.

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.
Kaley Roberts
Kaley Roberts is a food writer. Read more about Kaley