March 19, 2020
Restaurants limited to ten (10) patrons at one time – Since Governor Northam’s announcement on March 17 concerning the limiting of ten patrons at a time in Virginia restaurants, restaurants in Franklin County and its two Towns have rapidly adjusted by closing or vastly reducing use of their dining rooms and moving to carryout and delivery service. There have been some questions locally regarding the implementation of this order as it pertains to specific local situations. Many local restaurants have multiple spaces that are separated from each other, such as an indoor dining room and an outdoor patio with tables and food service. Some have asked if the ten-person limit is for each space or for the business as a whole. The Virginia Department of Health has received numerous inquiries regarding this question from around the Commonwealth and their Office of Environmental Health in Richmond has reached out to the Governor’s office for further guidance. At this time, the state’s view is that the limit on patrons is ten at any one time no matter the configuration of the restaurant. We do note that the guidance is that the ten-patron limit is specific to patrons (customers) and the limit does not include restaurant staff, delivery drivers, etc. If any further guidance, changes, or clarification to the Governor’s order is provided to the VDH, they will communicate that to their permittees as quickly as possible. Changes to the guidance will also be posted here: http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/environmental-health/environmental-health-services/guidance-on-food-establishments-and-social-distancing/. For additional information, see the Governor’s Order.