Main Menu
Legal Alert

What San Diego County Restaurants Need To Know About The Reopening Of Dining Rooms


California recently approved San Diego County’s request to move further into Stage 2 of the State’s Resilience Roadmap. San Diego County restaurants and retail businesses may now open with appropriate modifications to their operations. Pursuant to the May 21, 2020 Public Health Order promulgated by the local Public Health Office, retail businesses need to comply with the County’s Safe Reopening Plan along with their industry’s guidance and checklist. (Shopping centers have their own industry guidance and checklist.) Retail businesses which have been open for pick-up and delivery will need to update their Safe Reopening Plan if they intend to permit customers into their stores.

Pursuant to the Public Health Order, restaurants reopening for dine-in services have separate requirements (in addition to industry guidance and posting the Cal/OSHA Covid-19 General Checklist). Businesses should also review the following County guidance:

The COVID-19 Restaurant Operating Protocol

Pursuant to the County’s Public Health Order, restaurants must prepare and post a COVID-19 Restaurant Operating Protocol for each restaurant in the County. The COVID-19 Restaurant Operating Protocol must be posted at or near each entrance of the restaurant in a location easily viewable to the public. Additionally, a copy of the COVID-19 Restaurant Operating Protocol must be provided to each employee working at the restaurant. The COVID-19 Restaurant Operating Protocol is divided into five sections, which will be summarized below.

Before going through that lengthy list, however, here are some key takeaway points for restaurant owners:

Section 1: Protect Employee Health (All Measures Mandatory)

While many of the provisions mirror the Safe Reopening Plan, there are some unique requirements for restaurant employees:

Section 2: Social Distancing (All Measures Mandatory)

Section 3: Education for the Dining Public (All Measures Mandatory)

Section 4: Measures to Increase Sanitization and Disinfection (All Measures Mandatory)

Section 5: Recommendations (Optional)

The final section contains recommended steps that restaurants should consider taking in connection with reopening dining rooms. The suggested measures pertain to customer service and sanitation practices.

 The Public Health Order creates a continuing obligation for employers to implement all measures in the COVID-19 Restaurant Operating Protocol, and to modify the COVID-19 Restaurant Operating Protocol if current measures are not effective in maintaining proper social distancing and sanitation. As is the case for other businesses operating under a Safe Reopening Plan, the County reserves the right to close any business which fails to comply with its COVID-19 Restaurant Operating Protocol.

Looking Forward

If you have locations in multiple counties, you must comply with the reopening requirements in each county. Not every county is far enough into Stage 2 to permit in-person retail shopping and dining. Among counties that are so-permitting, the allowed scope of business operations and required safety and posting measures may vary.


We will continue to monitor the rapidly developing COVID-19 situation and provide updates as appropriate. Make sure you are subscribed to Fisher Phillips’ Alert System to get the most up-to-date information. For further information, contact your Fisher Phillips attorney, any attorney in our San Diego office, or any member of our COVID-19 Taskforce.

You can also review our nationwide Comprehensive and Updated FAQs for Employers on the COVID-19 Coronavirus and our FP Resource Center For Employers, maintained by our Taskforce.  For Safe Reopening Plan training for the Health and Safety Coordinator, managers, and human resources personnel, contact Regina A. Petty or Darcey M. Groden in our San Diego office.

This Legal Alert provides an overview of a specific county law. It is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice for any particular fact situation.

Back to Page

By using this site, you agree to our updated General Privacy Policy and our Legal Notices.