Reopening & Recovery

Guidance and information for restaurants looking to safely reopen.

The restaurant industry, more than any other industry in the nation, has suffered the most significant sales and job losses since the COVID-19 outbreak began. More than 8 million restaurant employees were laid off or furloughed, and the industry lost $280 billion in sales during the first 13 months of the pandemic. 

There is a lot of work in front of the industry. Restaurant operators will need information, guidance, and community to be successful. To help operators navigate the new dining landscape, we’ve created guidance on how to reopen your restaurant. To ensure the future of the restaurant industry we’ve outlined a recovery blueprint for government officials.


COVID-19 Operating Guidance for Restaurants

Open IconFor restaurant operators navigating on- and off-premises service during the pandemic, this updated guidance provides science-based direction, a framework for best practices, and quick access to the most updated links and resources available to help mitigate exposure to the COVID-19 virus during operation. It includes the most recent information from the Association, CDC, FDA, EPA, OSHA, industry and academia.




State by State Reopening Guidance

States Icon

State/Federal Guidance for the WARN Act: The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act requires companies with 100 or more full-time employees to report plant closings involving 50 or more employees during a 30-day period. Restaurant and retail owners may not realize that a WARN notice also is triggered if employees are terminated or laid off for more than 6 months or if they have their hours reduced 50% or more in any 6-month period. These two documents, one for the federal requirements and one outlining state-specific requirements, will help you navigate the WARN Act and its state offshoots.

State Reopening Training & Certification Requirements/Recommendations 
This document, updated regularly, covers all training and certification requiremen ts for restaurants by state as each enters new reopening phases. It also covers any state food protection manager and food handler certificate expiration extensions and required recertification deadlines.

Official Return to Work Guidelines for Foodservice Establishments
A comprehensive compilation tracking official orders from all 50 states in categories including dine in status (permitted or not), employee and customer PPE/health check requirements, sanitation requirements, occupancy limits, payment process changes, and local exceptions.

COVID-19 Liability Protection Statutes by State
The National Restaurant Association Restaurant Law Center has assembled a state-by-state guide that covers where COVID-19 liability protection legislation stands in states where it’s been discussed, proposed or passed. It will update as new information comes in.

Indoor Dining Restrictions by State 
A summary of information from the more extensive Official Return to Work Guidelines for Foodservice Establishments, this regularly updated document lists which states permit indoor dining, occupancy rates allowed, and any restrictions that apply.

What can operators do when guests refuse to wear face coverings? The Association’s Restaurant Law Center provides information in this handy Q&A.
The Association’s Restaurant Law Center shares ways operators can handle screening employees for COVID-19, face-covering mandates, and sending them home if they present symptoms, all in a Q&A format.

State and Local Mask Mandates and COVID-19 Related Requirements
The National Restaurant Association is updating a compiled list of City & County Face Covering requirements and recommendations in real time. 

Guidance for Restaurants Responding to COVID-19 Positive Employee 
Strategies employers could consider in preparation for a potential COVID-19 positive employee. Note, this document provides general guidance and should not be construed as legal, medical or human resource advice, but rather as a resource for employers needing to take quick action. The electronic version of this document contains the relevant links, as of June 24, 2020, to the CDC, OSHA, EPA, and EEOC pages.

For more state and local resources visit


Reopening Guidance for the Restaurant Industry Webinar

Webinar IconWith states reopening in different phases and with differing requirements, this webinar will share updated guidance as well as ideas of how to navigate various rules and requirements.

This webinar is designed in partnership with public health officials to provide you with a basic summary of recommended practices that can be used to help mitigate exposure to the COVID-19 virus, including:

  • Food safety
  • Cleaning and sanitizing
  • Employee health monitoring and personal hygiene
  • Social distancing

This webinar is designed as an information session for individuals working in the foodservice industry. It is not ServSafe Certification training. Please visit for information on ServSafe training.


Reopening Marketplace

Open Icon The Reopening Marketplace is a new addition to the National Restaurant Association’s Marketplace member affinity program. As with Marketplace, the site offers members a selection of important products and services geared to reopening safely and priced at an exclusive, member-only advantage. This select group of products and services helps advance and protect America's restaurant and foodservice industry as it returns to full service.

You’ll find exclusive discounts on everything you need to reopen safely.


Blueprint for Restaurant Revival

Recovery IconThe "Blueprint for Restaurant Revival" outlines specific and immediate action the federal government can take to help restaurants and employees confront and overcome the lingering COVID-19 crisis. The National Restaurant Association Blueprint for Restaurant Revival will help restaurants of every size and operational model in every community across the country—an industry that pre-COVID counted over one million locations—and more than 15.6 million employees, the second-largest private sector employer.



Reopening News Articles

October 19, 2021
Rising food costs and supply chain issues are creating challenges

More than 9 in 10 restaurant operators experienced supply delays or shortages of key food or beverage items in recent months.

October 15, 2021
Restaurant sales posted a modest gain in September

Four in five operators said their restaurant experienced a decline in customer demand for indoor on-premises dining due to the delta variant.

October 8, 2021
Restaurant job growth remained sluggish in September

Although the industry added back many of the jobs lost during the early months of the pandemic, a majority of restaurants remain understaffed.

October 6, 2021
Customer demand for outdoor dining rose due to the delta variant

As important as it has been for their survival during the pandemic, the outdoor dining season is winding down for a majority of restaurants.

September 22, 2021
27 states lost restaurant jobs in August 2021

The August job losses were primarily concentrated in the southeast and northeast regions of the country.

September 21, 2021
Tourism-related sales fell short for most restaurants this summer

Restaurant spending by travelers and visitors remained dampened this summer, and the fall season is looking even more challenging.

September 20, 2021
SBA ups the limit on COVID-19 EIDL loans

Restaurants can now apply for up to $2 million to help with pandemic recovery.

September 20, 2021
Training your team to clean and sanitize your operation

What should be included in an effective cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting routine throughout your operation?

September 16, 2021
Restaurant sales leveled off in August

Restaurant sales growth stalled in August, as many consumers changed their behavior due to the delta variant.

September 15, 2021
Reopening Roti provides new chance to make first impression

How Roti Bowls. Salads. Pitas. is rebranding, reopening, and hiring in this stop-and-start pandemic environment.

September 14, 2021
First Watch’s Zimmermann named Outstanding Food Safety Leader

VP took helm to help establish restaurants’ COVID-19 protocols and procedures, ensure continuous staff training.

September 3, 2021
Restaurant job growth stalled in August

The August decline followed a 7-month period in which eating and drinking places added nearly 1.4 million jobs.

August 27, 2021
Use technology to streamline your hiring process

Take advantage of the tech tools that help manage and automate your hiring efforts and leverage the tax credits you’re due.

August 26, 2021
Alcohol-to-go is here to stay in many locales

Pandemic-inspired policies become permanent in 16 states and D.C.; another 14 pass temporary measures

August 25, 2021
Use science to make your case for mask, vaccine mandates

Health experts talk about COVID-19, the delta variant, and what to do about increased state and local directives.

August 24, 2021
44 states and DC added restaurant jobs in July 2021

Restaurant job growth was broad-based in recent months, but employment remained below comparable pre-pandemic levels in 44 states and DC.

August 20, 2021
Track proof of vaccine and mask mandates state by state

Goal is to ensure restaurant operators have the latest info to meet and comply with emerging pandemic-related requirements.

August 19, 2021
5 ways to woo workers

Competition for talent is fierce; here’s how to stand out from the crowd

August 17, 2021
Restaurant sales rose sharply for the fifth consecutive month

Restaurant sales continued to trend higher in July, even as consumers pulled back on spending in other areas.

August 11, 2021
Trends with traction

These pandemic-inspired business strategies are so effective that they may change the industry landscape permanently.

August 10, 2021
Vaccination mandates: How to handle asking for proof

Before you ask for proof of vaccination, be aware of and prepare for legal and logistical ramifications to enforce the policy.

August 6, 2021
Restaurants within 1 million jobs of pre-pandemic peak

Eating and drinking places added a net 1.3 million jobs during the first seven months of 2021.

August 5, 2021
New guidance to help you claim a tax credit you’re due

Tri-Merit founder shows restaurateurs how they can qualify for pandemic-related Employee Retention Tax Credit.

August 4, 2021
Employment Law and COVID-19

What restaurant operators should know about pandemic policies

July 28, 2021
Out of the frying pan into the fire

Restaurants are recovering from the pandemic, but rising food costs and supply shortages are causing new problems.

July 27, 2021
86 Food Waste: Engineer your menu to reduce waste

Take a look at how simple menu and service tweaks can reduce the amount of food you throw out each day.

July 26, 2021
Restaurant jobs remain below June 2019 levels in 46 states and DC

All 50 states and DC added restaurant jobs in June, but staffing levels remained dampened in nearly every state.

July 16, 2021
Restaurant sales continued to rise in June

Consumers ramped up their restaurant spending during the first half of 2021.

July 14, 2021
Take a tax break for hiring the unemployed

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit can help offset your hiring costs

July 8, 2021
Updated Operating Guidelines cover new OSHA employee protections

Latest version, our 6th edition, incorporates new OSHA recommendations for vaccinated/unvaccinated workers

July 8, 2021
Research chief Riehle looks at current state of the industry

As restaurants recover from the pandemic, labor shortages and commodity prices are painful, but things are looking up.

July 7, 2021
Restaurant employment recovery continued as openings hit a record high

Restaurant employment continued to rise in June, but the industry was only able to fill a fraction of the available job openings.

July 1, 2021
Get a handle on disposable gloves: Protect yourself and your guests

Key lesson: Gloves never take the place of proper handwashing.

June 30, 2021
Back to business: Pandemic influences Essie’s menu

Comfort foods are here to stay; staffing shortages require controlled customer counts for now.

June 24, 2021
49 states and DC added restaurant jobs in May 2021

Only 4 states – Idaho, Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota – have seen restaurant employment return to pre-pandemic levels.

June 24, 2021
State associations, Kitchen Cabinet get industry employees vaccinated

Events, videos, ad campaigns, free giveaways all work to get workforce on board with shots.

June 23, 2021
Cultural differences can be hard to talk about

Leaders who can get comfortable having tough conversations build more trust among employees.

June 23, 2021
Tapping the teen market

What does Generation Z want from a job?

June 17, 2021
Women entrepreneurs set the table for success

The founding members of Let’s Talk Womxn share their experiences and expectations for the future

June 15, 2021
Joining the MOD Squad is a leap of faith and HOPE

Career opportunities knock as fast-casual pizza company opens doors for justice-involved youth.

June 15, 2021
Restaurant sales continue to trend higher

A new survey indicates consumers have yet to get their fill of restaurants, which means the positive sales trajectory has more room to run.

June 10, 2021
Back to business: Reopening strategies at Walk-Ons

The Louisiana franchisor opened 12 units during the pandemic and used limited capacity as an employment strategy.

June 4, 2021
Restaurants added jobs for the fifth consecutive month

Eating and drinking places are still 1.5 million jobs below pre-pandemic staffing levels.

June 3, 2021
What You Need to Know About PPP Loan Forgiveness

In key webinar takeaways, experts walk you through how to get lenders to approve your PPP loan forgiveness applications.

June 2, 2021
Taking pride in finding the right employees

TransCanWork, a nonprofit founded by a transgender restaurant executive, is helping the community succeed in business.

May 27, 2021
Restaurants focus on vaccination policy, more tech, outdoor dining

Our Association’s State Affairs VP shares his insights on a post-pandemic industry.

May 26, 2021
Association, AICPA partner on RRF budget tracking tool

This easy-to-use spreadsheet will help you track expenses to facilitate SBA’s validation process for RRF grant expenditures.

May 25, 2021
Restaurants offer a shot in the arm to vaccination programs

Incentives such as paid time off encourage employees to get vaccinated

May 21, 2021
Summer hiring likely to be challenged by a shallow labor pool

While the restaurant industry is expected to expand payrolls this summer, it will likely be a mix of both coronavirus recovery and seasonal jobs.

May 21, 2021
Restaurant jobs remain below pre-pandemic levels in 49 states and DC

The District of Columbia, Vermont, New York and Hawaii have the largest deficits from their pre-coronavirus employment levels.