COVID-19 Safety Guidelines for Bars and Pubs

Bars, pubs, and other local watering holes are commonly associated with a social and often tightly-packed atmosphere, posing considerable risks for the transmission of COVID-19 if bar owners and customers are not aware of the most recent safety guidelines.

Many bars have started to offer pick-up or delivery services for their drinks, and others have benefitted from outdoor seating arrangements. Still, there is a growing demand from customers to drink inside a bar or pub, especially during colder months.

To safely reopen their businesses, bar owners are faced with difficult questions that must be addressed, including:

  • How can we protect our employees and customers from COVID-19 while at our bar?
  • How do we assure our customers that we are doing everything that we can to protect them?
  • How can social distancing be enabled in a small space like a bar?
  • What are the best practices for cleaning and disinfecting bar and restaurant equipment and facilities to stop the spread of COVID-19?

With these questions in mind, AIHA has created this “Reopening: Guidance for The Bar Industry” guide to offer practical advice for how to reopen bars and pubs during COVID-19 safely. The guidance borrows from the latest advice given by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as expert advice from other leading health and government organizations.

These reopening guidelines share actionable steps and recommendations to protect bar staff patrons, including information on the following key areas:

  • What should a bar owner do to protect themselves and their customers?
    • Guidance on how to limit the number of customers in the bar at one time, including a “reservation only” policy or outdoor seating options when possible
    • Recommended signage to ensure bar staff and customers are aware of the latest safety protocols
    • Best practices for managing in-bar events like live music or open-mic nights
    • Changes to ordering and payment systems that further minimize the likelihood of close contact between bar workers and customers
    • Proper ventilation practices to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19
    • Enhanced cleaning practices, including a list of products that meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2
    • Disinfection protocols for menus, bar seating, aprons, towels, and other potentially contaminated surfaces
    • Recommended training for employees so that they understand the best practices and safety guidelines to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19
    • How to conduct employee health checks and self-monitoring practices to recognize and identify the symptoms of COVID-19
  • What should a bar employee or customer do to minimize the transmission of COVID-19?
    • Self-monitoring best practices
    • Recommended PPE for bar employees and customers
    • Best practices to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19 while at a bar, including when to stay home
    • The importance of regularly washing hands with soap and water or using hand sanitizer
    • What to do if you feel the urge to sneeze or cough while inside a bar


Download our “Reopening: Guidance for the Bar Industry” guidance document today to learn how to reopen or visit a bar or pub during COVID-19 safely.