Food Premises Guidance

  • The maximum indoor seating capacity for all food premises is up to 50 patrons. Having the maximum capacity set at 50 will help with ensuring the ability of the Chief Public Health Office to perform the required contact tracing in the event that a case identifies in connection to a food premises. Currently, there is no set seating capacity for outdoor dining areas.
  • Food premises may have more than 50 patrons seated indoors following the Multiple Gatherings Guidance.
  • Physical distancing (2 metres/6 feet) must be maintained between patrons at different tables as well as for patrons at the bar or in the waiting area(s). This applies to both indoor and outdoor (patio) seating areas.
  • The maximum number of patrons per table is 20.  
  • No buffet style service and no sharing of utensils.
  • Recreational activities within food premises not allowed at this time include, but are not limited to, dance floors, indoor play areas, and karaoke. Recreational activities that are permitted include pool tables, outdoor play areas, trivia, VLTs, and bingo.
  • Singing is permitted, at a distance of 3.5 m (12 feet) apart from one another and everyone else unless a non-medical mask is worn, in which case, singers must remain a minimum of 2 metres (6 feet) apart from one another and everyone else. 
  • Music volume should be kept low so individuals at tables do not have to yell at each other to be heard over the sound.
  • Customers in a restaurant, dining room or other licensed premises are required to remain seated for alcohol service.
  • For food and non-alcoholic drinks:

    • seated service should be in place where at all possible

    • served buffets are permitted, provided:

      • the server frequently practices hand hygiene, wears a non-medical mask, and is screened for symptoms of COVID-19,

      • those in the line-up are six feet from the food, or there is a sneeze guard in place or food items are wrapped,

      • the line-up is 6 ft away from any individuals seated or otherwise partaking in the gathering,

      • congestion and mixing at the served buffet is minimized (e.g. one group/table at a time), and

      • people serving themselves wear a non-medical mask.

    • self serve food or non-alcoholic drink stations are permitted, provided:
      • food items are individually wrapped,
      • hand washing facilities or alcohol-based sanitizers are within easy reach of the station,
      • the stations are supervised,
      • signs are posted at the self-serve station, to remind people to wash or sanitize their hands before touching self-serve food, drink or other items, and to maintain a two metre distance from other patrons,
      • any high touch surfaces are frequently cleaned and disinfected,
      • congestion at the station is minimized (e.g. one group/table at a time), and
      • people serving themselves wear a non-medical mask
All businesses and organizations operating during the COVID-19 pandemic are required to have an operational plan.

Preventive measures

The preventive measures required in the operational plan require operators to:

  • Take every reasonable step to ensure minimal interaction of people (including employees and/or clients) within two metres (six feet) of each other.
  • Take every reasonable step necessary to prevent employees who are required to self-isolate from entering workplaces.
  • Develop and follow an exclusion policy that ensures symptomatic employees are immediately excluded from work activities.
  • Ensure enhanced cleaning and disinfection of shared areas and surfaces.
  • Ensure hand washing stations or hand sanitizing products are available.

This guidance is subject to change. Food premise operators are advised to remain informed of orders and directives issued by the Chief Public Health Officer.

General Considerations

  • Rearrange waiting areas – consider things like removing chairs and benches, asking patrons to wait outside for a table, posting signs, stanchions, tape on floor, etc. to promote physical distancing.
  • Create separate take-out and dine-in protocols. Designate a door or path separate from dine-in patrons for payment and/or pickup, if possible. Introduce clear signage (e.g. floor markers) for take-out versus dine-in, and for entrances and exits into the food premises.  
  • Aisles should be wide enough to permit physical distancing. Consider a one-way system for movement throughout the food premises.
  • Ensure a two metre (six feet) physical distance from other workers and patrons.
  • Physical barriers should be in place where the two metre (six feet) physical distance between tables is not possible. (e.g., heighten barriers between booths).
  • If work activities mean that physical distancing cannot be maintained at all times, employers are strongly recommended to require  the use of masks as an additional measure.
  • Keep the music volume low to prevent patrons from leaning in towards one another, or having to shout.
  • Provide a temporary handwash station or hand sanitizer at the door for patrons to use when they enter the restaurant.
  • Consider limiting the number of available stalls and urinals to encourage physical distancing in washrooms.
  • Washroom sanitation must be enhanced.
  • Manage break times and schedules (stagger) to support maintaining physical distances between staff members.
  • Consider creating cohorts of staff members who work together and who do not interact with other cohorts. This will assist in reducing transmission throughout the workplace and with contact tracing in the event that a staff member becomes ill.
  • Provide signage and guidance to patrons regarding physical distancing, not entering the food premises if they are ill and other messaging related to COVID-19 guidance.

Table Service

  • Self-serve buffets will not be permitted at this time.
  • Consider controlling access to the dining room by having patrons wait to be seated.
  • Reservations are encouraged for in-room dining.
  • For table service, food premises must record at minimum, the name and phone number of one person per table and the total number of patrons in the dining party. This can be done with a responsible person completing attendance on site or electronically with verification on site. Records including the names and phone number should be kept for one month to facilitate contact tracing in the event of an outbreak. Operations should have an internal process in place to quickly retrieve these records, should the records be needed, even on weekends. These records should be stored in a safe, secure location for one month after creation of the records and then disposed of using a secure destruction method to maintain the confidentiality of participants. For paper records, secure destruction means, at minimum, cross-cut shredding.
  • Consider making tables as large as possible, and increase the space between chairs at the same table.
  • Remove salt and pepper shakers, sauce dispensers, candles, and other table top items. Provide if requested and replace with thoroughly cleaned and sanitized ones. Consider single-use options.
  • Avoid touching water glasses and/or coffee cups when refilling.
  • If patrons ask to take unfinished food with them, provide the packaging and let the patron put the food into the container.
  • Use digital menu boards, large chalkboards, or online pre-ordering alternatives instead of traditional menus. If this is not possible, consider single-use disposable menus or reusable menus that can be cleaned and disinfected between patrons.
  • Try to limit the use of cash and limit the handling of credit cards and loyalty cards whenever possible, by allowing patrons to scan or tap their cards and handle the card readers themselves. Encourage tap payment over pin pad use.

Cleaning and hygiene

  • Develop and establish hand hygiene policies and procedures for all staff members. Post handwashing signs near all sinks.
  • Establish hygiene practices that address the needs of the workplace that includes the requirement to wash or sanitize hands after coming into contact with public items, such as an ID when verifying a person’s age.
  • Have hand sanitizer (with 60-80% alcohol) available to patrons and staff members. Install additional dispensers as needed.
  • Tables, vinyl or laminated menus, and seats should be cleaned and sanitized when tables turn. Remove all items when turning a table.
  • Establish cleaning procedures for condiments and other items brought to the table or available for sharing. Ensure they are cleaned and sanitized between uses.
  • Clarify procedures for cleaning staff areas and train accordingly.
  • Clean bathrooms thoroughly and on a more frequent basis. Install additional touch-free soap and paper towel dispensers, if possible.
  • Enhance cleaning of all frequent touchpoints including walls, tables, chairs, barstools, coasters, condiments, coat hooks, restrooms, doors including front door, restroom door, staff doors to office, kitchen, and breakroom.
  • Develop a cleaning schedule and assign and train a staff member who is responsible for completing cleaning tasks and ensuring these tasks are completed.
  • Create a process to track what has been cleaned, when, and by whom.


Physical distancing

  • Limit the number of staff members in a food preparation area at any one time.
  • Consider designating staff members to certain areas of the kitchen to ensure physical distancing requirements can be maintained.  
  • Where physical distancing between workspaces is not possible, consider the use of physical barriers made of non-porous materials such as plexiglass. Prior to installing physical barriers, contact the necessary departments (e.g. Charlottetown or Summerside Fire Inspection Services, Fire Marshal’s Office, Worker’s Compensation Board) to ensure it meets their requirements.
  • Establish directional arrows on the floor in kitchen settings to control flow of traffic and reduce interaction between cooking and clearing areas.
  • When applicable, clearly mark exit and entrance doors from kitchen to service area to avoid interaction between food being served and dishes being cleared.
  • Restrict access into the food preparation area by delivery agents and members of the public and other staff members.
  • If it is not possible to maintain physical distance at all times, employers may consider the use of masks as an additional measure where it is safe to do so.

Cleaning and hygiene

  • Enhance cleaning and disinfecting practices for high-contact areas such as surfaces in public serving zones; incorporating regular and end-of-shift cleaning and disinfection for all shared spaces; and ensuring workers are provided with appropriate supplies, such as soap and water, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes.
  • As much as possible, cooks and chefs should use their own high-use tools such as knives.
  • Establish a system to eliminate or minimize sharing of communal equipment and small tools (implements). Any shared equipment such as small appliances, mixers, etc. should be cleaned and sanitized between use, and workers should wash their hands.
  • Ingredients and containers that are often shared should be included in your cleaning protocol.
  • High touch equipment (freezer doors, oven handles, knobs) should be included in your cleaning protocol.
  • Develop and establish additional handwashing procedures for all kitchen staff members. This includes before and after leaving the kitchen and using equipment.


Physical distancing

  • Stagger start times for food delivery drivers to prevent crowding at restaurant dispatch locations.
  • Drop off packages at the door or outside buildings; call ahead and/or text instructions so the delivery driver is aware of any site requirements and the customer can be ready to accept the delivery.
  • Adjust practices for proof of delivery so that in-person signatures are avoided and online confirmation of receipt of package can be used instead.

Cleaning and hygiene

  • Ensure shared vehicles are included in your cleaning protocol, including a disinfectant wipe down of all touch points (e.g., door handles, steering wheels, portable debit machines, seats, windows, stairs, handrails, elevator buttons, door handles, garbage handles, seats, phones).
  • Hand sanitizer should also be available in the delivery vehicle for the delivery driver

Additional Resources

Associations may have additional information, guidance, or resources to assist you in developing your operational plan.


For further information or questions related to PEI Food Premises guidance, contact:
Department of Health and Wellness
Environmental Health Office
16 Fitzroy Street, Charlottetown, PE  C1A 7N8
Phone: 902-368-4970


Published date: 
October 28, 2020
Health and Wellness

General Inquiries

Department of Health and Wellness
4th Floor North, Shaw Building
105 Rochford Street
Charlottetown, PE   C1A 7N8

Phone: 902-368-6414
Fax: 902-368-4121