Phase 3 Guidance – Bars Allowed to Seat Customers Outdoors

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Per Executive Order 181, bars may allow consumption of alcohol in outdoor seating areas only. The number of guests seated in the outdoor area is limited to no more than 100 people or 30% of the outdoor maximum occupancy (if there is no stated occupancy then no more than 7 guests per 1000 square feet), based on whichever amount is smaller. Workers and any other support staff do not count toward the capacity limits. If a bar plans to seat customers in an outdoor space that is not part of their licensed premises and they would like to temporarily extend their premises, they MUST follow the steps outlined in the Temporary Extension of Premises Guidelines.

There are additional requirements that bars must follow during Phase 3: 

  • Space Out Guests. Each group of Guests must be seated so that they are spaced out by six (6) feet in all directions from other groups of Guests. Each group of Guests sitting at a counter should be separated from other groups by six (6) feet. Entertainers also must stay at least six (6) feet away from any Guest.
  • People sitting at a table need not be members of the same household and do not need to stay six (6) feet apart. Moreover, this Executive Order does not require waitstaff to stay six (6) feet away from Guests.
  • Bars not using waitstaff must designate an ordering area at the bar. This area must allow each Guest to wait six (6) feet apart from other Guests. If necessary, Guests may place their orders by coming inside the Bar's building; however, Guests must consume their beverages in outdoor seating areas only.
  • All workers and Guests must wear Face Coverings when they are or may be within the facility.
  • Restrict late night service of alcoholic beverages as stated in Section 4 of the Executive Order.
  • Follow the restrictions set out in Sections 3.13 of the Executive Order for any food or beverage service.
  • Mark six (6) feet of spacing in lines at high-traffic areas for Guests.
  • Promote frequent use of hand-washing and hand sanitizer for wait staff and food service staff throughout the shift and upon reporting to work. Hand washing must at least meet the requirements specified in the North Carolina Food Code Manual.
  • Provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol) at the entrance and at other areas throughout the premises as needed. Promote frequent use of handwashing and hand sanitizer for workers and Guests.
  • Increase disinfection during peak times or high Guest density times, and disinfect all shared objects (e.g., payment terminals, tables, countertops/bars, receipt trays, and reusable menus) between use.
  • Follow all applicable requirements in NCDHHS guidelines.
  • Follow the Core Signage, Screening and Sanitation Requirements as defined in the Executive Order.


For more information about Phase 3 or the Modified Stay at Home Order, please see Executive Order 181 or the FAQs found here .