Even though the government has relaxed restrictions that limited restaurant operations, nearly all teams are using masks out of concern for public safety; Photo by Louis Venne

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Restaurants Can Open—and Many Have—at 50 Percent Capacity in Full Phase 1

As of May 18, life got a lot closer to normal.

While takeout business continues to thrive, one seismic shift for the restaurant scene on May 18 as Florida’s full Phase 1 of COVID-19 recovery took effect was that restaurants were allowed to “increase indoor capacity to 50 percent with proper social distancing,” with outdoor seating “encouraged.” (Also, breweries are now allowed to reopen if food trucks are serving on site.)

So there you have it: We’re halfway back to normal. And if you give the current situation more than a passing thought, during a normal Florida summer, most eateries are operating at half of their regular seasonal traffic to begin with, making things not too far off-kilter.

As for the surreal life, we’re still seeing—and highly appreciative of—masks being worn in dining rooms and in kitchens, sanitizing stations set up for workers and consumers, and the shift to disposable paper menus (or the thorough cleansing of others after each use).

Find open restaurants here.