Back on the Menu: Rules for Navigating Reopened Restaurants


May 12, 2020

Beginning tomorrow, some restaurants in Germany may open their doors to the public once again.

Depending on which state in Germany you find yourself, regulations may differ. While Rheinland-Pfalz eateries can start serving customers on May 13, restaurants in Hessen aren’t allowed to open until May 15; those in Baden-Wurttemberg and Bavaria are slated for a May 18 reopening. So check in with any restaurant before you go – ideally when you’re trying to make a reservation, which is mandatory.


For patrons considering their dining options, however, this still isn’t business as usual. In fact, recent guidance provided by the Rheinland-Pfalz state outlined a number of specific policies that guide where, how, and when people may visit restaurants.

What types of places will be open?

Provided they can meet German hygiene and safety requirements, the following types of establishments may open to serve customers who have made reservations in advance.

  • Restaurants, canteens, cafés and similar places.
  • Ice cream parlors/cafés.
  • Vinotheques and wine tasting rooms.
  • Indoor and outdoor seating will be allowed.

Do I have to wear a face mask?

  • Yes, you do, when entering, leaving, and moving around the restaurant. So does anyone in your dining party.
  • BUT, face masks are not required while sitting at tables.
  • Restaurant employees must wear them as well.

Who can I bring with me?

It’s a bit complicated, but the same basic rules apply that apply to any gatherings in Germany. After making a reservation:

  • Dining alone is permitted.
  • You can eat out with members of your household.
  • Or, you (and members of your household) can go with one or more members of one other household.
  • When it comes to outdoor beer gardens, no more than six people – older than age 12 – may be at any one table.
  • Remember: distancing rules still apply. A minimum of 1.5 meters (about 5 feet) is still required between the chairs of one table and the chairs of another table. So it is encouraged to keep dining parties small.

Are there rules on opening hours?

  • Yes. Opening hours for dining establishments are limited: from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Check with specific places for their opening hours, which may differ.

Where, exactly, can I eat my meal?

  • If you’re dining in, food and drink can only be served at tables.
  • Pick-up and delivery services are allowed, however. Check your preferred eatery for more information on services that might be offered.

For U.S. government employees, including service members, remember to always follow command regulations, which may be different than host nation policies. Additional information is available through the Ramstein Air Base public affairs office.

(Visited 337 times, 1 visits today)