Strategies for Reopening You May Not Have Considered

reopening bars strategies AIHA

In the last few weeks, a lot of guidance has come out aimed at helping bars and restaurants to reopen safely. Much of the advice you’ve probably heard on repeat at this point: encourage social distancing, move to a reservation-only system, encourage outdoor dining, space tables six feet apart, and clean, clean, clean.

The American Industrial Hygiene Association® (AIHA) recently released some guidance of its own to help bars safely reopen in the coming days and weeks. While the guide reiterates some of the advice and approaches above, it also adds some new guidance that you may not have seen before. We’ve collected some of the more unique and interesting points from the guide to give you some new ideas and strategies.

Social Distancing

In addition to signage and floor graphics encouraging social distancing of at least six feet, the AIHA also recommends that bar owners consider increasing security staffing to help remind customers of physical distancing and to remove any customers that refuse to comply.

Consider closing gaming areas where people may congregate and that have high-touch surfaces. If you keep these activities open, provide disinfectant and encourage all patrons to clean before and after each use. Bar staff should, at minimum, clean and disinfect these areas at some frequency in between patrons’ usage. Consider making these activities reservation only and keep game equipment behind the bar until reserved.

Consider non-traditional ordering processes, such as a numbered menu on a wall/large board that can be easily communicated at a distance.

Instead of having customers walk up to the bar, consider providing table-only service for drinks.


A large part of combating the spread of COVID-19 comes down to cleaning. Much has been said on this topic, but the AIHA has some additional suggestions you may not have considered:

  • Consider covering chairs in a non-porous material for easy cleaning.
  • Establish a disinfection routine—no more wet rags—use disposable products instead.
  • Consider using a checklist or audit system to track how often cleaning is conducted.
  • Cover any exposed clean silverware, dishes, glass-es, pots and pans. Relocate hanging bar glasses to a covered area.
  • For restrooms, place signs indicating that toilet lids (if present) should be closed before flushing. Provide paper towels and disconnect or tape-off hand air dryers.
  • Teach employees how to handle their work clothing properly at home, if laundry service is not provided by the employer. Cloth materials (linens, aprons, etc.) should be washed and dried on the highest temperature setting allowable for the fabric.

Screening Employees

It’s been recommended to screen employees and/or test temperatures before allowing them to start work. However, aside from a temperature check, you may be wondering what should be involved in an employee screening.

The AIHA provided links to some examples of questionnaires to aid in your screenings, such as this one from the South Dakota Department of Health.

For more on the topic of reopening, be sure to read:

A Look at Reopening Restrictions for Bars/Restaurants Across the U.S.

Guidelines for Reopening Your Bar

3 Things to Do Before Reopening Your Bar