Business and Restaurant Requirements During COVID-19

The Department of Finance and Administrative Services (FAS) is seeking input on a public health measure that's been in effect since mid-July and requires businesses to follow state-mandated business requirements, including use of protective face coverings, social distancing and adhering to capacity limits.

FAS issued the temporary measure last month following a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases. The measure was developed in partnership with King County and created through use of an Emergency Director's Rule. Under Seattle Municipal Code, the Director of FAS is authorized to adopt, publish and enforce all rules necessary to implement, interpret, administer and enforce city code for the purpose of licensing and regulating businesses. 

As COVID-19 cases continue to increase throughout the state, the department seeks to make the temporary measure a permanent rule through the duration of the pandemic. As part of this process, FAS is asking for input from businesses on how it can support them in implementing the rule requirements. 

View Draft Director's Rule

To view this Draft Director's Rule, and potential penalties for violations, please click here.

Share Input on Draft Director's Rule

Public comments should be provided by 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 28, and can be submitted by: 

City of Seattle
Dept. of Finance and Administrative Services
Attention: Consumer Protection Division
P.O. Box 94785
Seattle, WA 98124-7085

Resources for Businesses Regarding Draft Rule

Simplified Chinese
Traditional Chinese

Acceptable Removal of Face Coverings

Under the temporary rule and the draft permanent rule, businesses may allow an individual to remove their face covering under the following circumstances:

  • While seated at a restaurant or other establishment that offers food or beverage service, while they are eating or drinking, if they can maintain a distance of at least six feet from guests seated at other tables.
  • While in an outdoor public area, provided that a distance of at least six feet is maintained from non-household members.
  • When any party to a communication is deaf or hard of hearing and not wearing a face covering is essential to communication.
  • When obtaining a service that requires temporary removal of the face covering.
  • When necessary to confirm the individual's identity.
  • When federal or state law prohibits wearing a face covering or requires removing a face covering.

Exemptions for Wearing a Face Covering

Businesses are exempt from requiring face masks for the following individuals:

  • Children younger than five years old.
  • People with a medical condition, mental health condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering. This includes, but is not limited to, people with a medical condition for whom wearing a face covering could obstruct breathing or who are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a face covering without assistance.

Physical Distancing 

Businesses must also practice physical distancing, specifically:

  • Tables must be placed far enough apart when measured from occupied chair to occupied chair, to ensure dine-in guests seated at a table are a minimum of six feet away from guests at adjacent table, or there must be a physical barrier or wall separating booths or tables.
  • If an establishment does not offer table service, it must have protocols in place to ensure adequate physical distancing at food and drink pick-up stations, and seating within its dining area.

Occupancy Limits 

Businesses shall also adhere to occupancy limits and all patrons must be seated at the specific seating capacities specified for each of the state's reopening phases. 

Questions about this requirement?

Please call 206-684-2489 or visit

Individuals who are concerned that businesses are not enforcing the face coverings mandate, practicing physical distancing or adhering to occupancy limits and other measures identified in the statewide order can use the Find-It-Fix-It app or Customer Web Interface, or call 206-684-2489 (CITY) to report their concerns.