Reopening I.F. Restaurants: A Taste of What’s Next

Assuming Idaho’s cumulative case numbers can be kept in check, here’s what to expect on May 16 when I.F. restaurants reopen for onsite service.

Published online: May 06, 2020 Articles, Dining, East Idaho Business, East Idaho Health Steve Smede
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As of May 5, Idaho has a total of 2,127 coronavirus cases (including both confirmed and probable), including 21 new cases as of Tuesday. The COVID-19 death toll in the Gem State now stands at 65.

Click HERE, however, and you’ll see what appears to be an encouraging trend. Cases are still being reported, but the steep curve seems to be behind us. Hospitals and infectious disease experts will undoubtedly keep a close eye on all the numbers, but what does this trend mean for the Idaho Falls business community, particularly restaurants?

“Stage 2” of the Idaho Rebounds plan is now on track to take effect on Saturday, May 16. Assuming a restaurant has an approved reopening plan in place, your favorite eatery could be back to serving on site. Remember those good ol’ days?

Don’t expect business as usual, however. Idaho Falls establishments — both chains and local — will be following strict protocols. Here’s a taste of what to expect.

1. Same food, half the crowd.
Seating in restaurants will be limited to 50 percent capacity.

2. Private conversations guaranteed.
Picture the last time you ate at a restaurant. Now picture the same space with tables set at least 10 feet apart.

3. No Brady Bunch section.
Tables can have a maximum of 6 people, or maybe fewer if the table is small.

4. No crowding at the register.
Reopening plans call for limiting or even closing down waiting areas and lobbies. Does that mean you’ll have to wait for a text in order to be seated? Probably.

5. Be ready to call ahead.
Whether you’re planning for fine dining, steak and seafood or a burger and brew, plan on making reservations.

6. Cash is not king.
For obvious reasons, keep your wad of potential COVID cash in your wallet. Use contactless payment if at all possible.

7. Your waiter will be wearing a mask.
Regardless of your stance on face coverings, you should expect that your server will be wearing one.

Have you noticed that “sit-down” restaurants, who never offered curbside pickup or delivery, now offer it in abundance? Expect that to continue. Online menu selections will become especially popular as time goes on. 

Expect signage everywhere you look, as well as moderate to radical layout changes. Barriers and partitions will be installed to limit movement and encourage social distancing.

Want to scour the nitty gritty details, as well as what’s coming in later stages? The official Stage 2 protocols can be found HERE. For more information on COVI-19 and the state’s overall mitigation efforts, click HERE.


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