Beginning Friday, restaurants with existing outdoor seating across the state can allow customers to eat on-site. To meet the Governor’s Phase One Guidelines State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says restaurants need to reduce their capacity by 25-percent and he explains the new seating arrangements.

“The tables as they’re set up, it has to be a 10-foot distance between edge of table to edge of table to allow groups not to be co-mingle to each other, like you would be at a normal restaurant,” says Browning.

Browning says if you plan to dine at a restaurant with the new guidelines do not expect to have wait service.

“It will be counter service, so you’ll either call in and pick up your food at a counter inside the restaurant or order at a counter inside the restaurant and move outside,” says Browning.

According to the restaurant association, only four percent of restaurants in the state have existing patio or covered dining. However, Browning says they have given those without outdoor seating, guidelines on how to create temporary structures.

“It’s just a measure to try and help in this case of getting restaurants to where they can service people but maintain a very strict capacity and very strict mitigation to control the spread of COVID-19,” says Browning.

While inside dining is forbidden, restaurants can allow patrons to enter for use of restrooms but social distancing of six feet remains applicable. The City of New Orleans is excluded from the Phase One outdoor dining that goes into effect May 1st.

(Story written by Matt Doyle/Louisiana Radio Network)