Hawaii Health Dept. issues new guidance for restaurants, markets

The Hawaii State Department of Health has developed detailed guidance on safe practices and recommendations for reopening Hawai‘i’s food sector. During this initial recovery stage, the health department urges restaurants to act with care and continue to meticulously follow safe practices.

Keith Kawaoka, deputy director of environmental health said, “We encourage food operators to promote good hygiene practices by ensuring adequate supplies of soap, individual disposable towels, and hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol for employees and customers. Any employee who exhibits signs of illness should not be allowed to report to work.”

At a minimum, customers are required to wear a cloth face covering when moving through a food establishment or while waiting for a pick-up order, and their masks may be removed only while eating.

• No more than 50 percent or half of the total seating capacity should be available for dining-in use.

• Dining tables at least six feet apart for indoors and outdoors. (Outdoor seating does not count toward the total seating capacity.)

• Restaurants are encouraged to require reservations for dine-in service for greater control of customer volume.

• Consider allowing customers to pre-order while making reservations to decrease the length of time they are in the establishment.

• Maximum of six customers, not living in the same household, per group per table, with a maximum of 10 customers, living in the same household, per group per table.

• No self-service salad bar or buffet.

• Restaurants should also post signage at the entrance that states that no one with a fever or symptoms of COVID-19 will be permitted in the restaurant.


As the state moves toward the next phase of recovery, the Health Department plans to increase the recommended dining capacity for restaurants to 75 percent of total seating capacity while keeping dining tables at least six feet apart.

DOH also issued guidance for retail food markets, limiting the number of people in a facility up to 50 percent of fire code occupancy and maintaining a minimum of six feet between individuals. In the next phase, the recommended number of people in a retail food market increases to up to 75 percent of fire code occupancy, while continuing to maintain a minimum of six feet between individuals. The health department is continuously monitoring and evaluating conditions.

For a complete list of requirements for restaurants, retail food markets and food processors and manufacturers in the State Roadmap to Recovery and Resilience: Guidance for Reopening the Food Service Sector (PDF), DOH Food Safety Branch: health.hawaii.gov/san/, and DOH Food and Drug Branch: health.hawaii.gov/food-drug.