New restaurant rules allow diners to finish after closing

With the governor’s mandatory early closing hours for some businesses now in place, the administration updated its rules for restaurants last week making clear that diners served before 9:30 p.m. can finish their food and drinks, but must be off the premises by 10 p.m.

The new guidance stems from the executive order Gov. Baker signed on Nov. 2 requiring certain businesses to close between the hours of 9:30 p.m. and 5 a.m. as part of a strategy to blunt the rise in COVID-19 cases. The order was designed to work hand-in-hand with a stay-at-home advisory instructing people to stay home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Both new guidelines took effect last Friday.

Baker said that restaurants would be allowed to continue offering food for take-out service, and the updated guidance for restaurants make that explicit. No food or beverages can be served to a table after 9:30 p.m., but restaurants can keep employees on premises during the mandatory closing period to provide food and non-alcoholic beverage to take-out or delivery. No alcohol can be served in any capacity during the mandatory closing period, the administration said.