Business and Restaurant Requirements During COVID-19

The Department of Finance and Administrative Services (FAS) has issued a permanent Director's Rule reinforcing public health measures that have been in effect since mid-July and require businesses to follow state-mandated business requirements, including use of protective face coverings, social distancing and adhering to capacity limits.

FAS initially issued a temporary measure in July 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 sought to make the rule a permanent rule and sought public feedback over a two-week period. Responses to public comments have been compiled and are available here. Responses to public comments have been compiled and are available in English, Amharic, Arabic, Korean, Somali, Spanish, Vietnamese, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese.

View the Permanent Rule

To view the permanent rule that's in effect, please click here

Informational Flyers for Businesses Regarding the Rule

On March 22, 2021, King County was permitted to move into Phase 3 of the Governor's Healthy Washington recovery plan. The new guidance for businesses and workers allows for restaurants, bars that serve food, gym and fitness centers, to return to 50 percent capacity.

Informational flyers have been created to help businesses navigate the rule and what it means for you. 

Versión en Español
한국어 번역
Dịch tiếng Việt
Tarjumida soomaaliga
የአማርኛ ቅጅ

Resources for Businesses

The City is working with regional, state and federal partners to help working people and small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. View links below to learn about some of the resources available.  

Acceptable Removal of Face Coverings

Under the 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. 

Additional Resources 

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.