Information Specific to Restaurants


WRA provides restaurant operators with the latest news, helpful guidance and useful resources to help restaurant operators navigate the many issues relating to re-opening dining rooms. WRA advises restaurants to carefully open if they feel it is right for their business and their community.


Kristine Hillmer

For more information, contact:

Kristine Hillmer | WRA President & CEO


On May 14th, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled and struck down Department of Health Services Secretary Designee Andrea Palm’s Safer at Home Order extension via Emergency Order 28. We know you’re confused and have many questions. Can my restaurant re-open? Should I re-open? What is the best way to re-open?

WRA advises restaurant operators to carefully open if you feel it is right for your business and your community. If you do choose to open, it's important to do everything possible to mitigate the risk of spread and build confidence in customers.

The situation is still very fluid and things can change very quickly. Local health departments (counties and municipalities) can legally issue an emergency order to continue Safer at Home provisions within your area. Some areas have safer at home orders in place, others do not, some issued an order and then rescinded their order and others have their own phased in approach. It’s imperative to keep an eye on what’s going on in your city and county to ensure that you are not in violation of local mandates, opening yourselves up to fines and license revocation. We encourage you to check directly with your local health department for the latest information for your area and check in often as regulations can change quickly. See List of Local Health Departments

Keep in mind that if restaurants and bars in your area do not do a good job with implementing reopening best practices, local health departments will likely take action to impose stay at home closures for your area. It takes just a couple of bad examples to drive public concern.

On the flip side, customers need to make good decisions on what is best for them and their personal situation. In a press release sent out statewide, WRA urged customers to be patient and understanding as restaurants make decisions that are best for their business, their employees, their customers and their communities.

While there currently is no state restriction on capacity, we strongly urge restaurants to adhere to 6-foot distancing between tables, seat no more than 6 people at a table and have two empty bar stools between parties in the bar area.

When you decide to open up and welcome back dining room customers, we encourage you to check out the Wisconsin Promise program and other helpful resources developed by WRA as well as the state guidelines recently released by WEDC (Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation).



Wisconsin Restaurant Promise

In partnership with the Wisconsin Restaurant Association and health officials across the State, restaurant owners and operators can make commitments to earn the Wisconsin Restaurant Promise endorsement during the COVID-19 recovery period.

Download Full Toolkit


Guidance on Face Mask Use

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s (WEDC) Guidelines

General Guidelines

Restaurant and Foodservice Guidelines

Chef washing hands


As the industry faces ongoing challenges with COVID-19, the National Restaurant Association remains dedicated to helping everyone stay safe. They are offering these training programs and resources free for a limited time:

  • ServSafe standard, ANSI accredited, online Food Handler training program through May 31, 2020
  • Two new ServSafe training videos to reinforce safe food handling during the coronavirus outbreak. These are: ServSafe Takeout: COVID-19 Precautions and ServSafeDelivery: COVID-19 Precautions through May 31, 2020
  • ServSuccess Restaurant Professional and Restaurant Supervisor learning suites training for restaurant workers through May 31, 2020
  • American Hotel & Lodging Foundation training for hospitality professionals

REMINDER: ServSafe Food Handler is great training for your staff but does not meet Wisconsin requirements to be a Certified Food Manager.

Learn More/Access Training



ServSafe has developed a FREE on-demand training video to train operators and staff to reopen restaurants with new COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.  ServSafeReopening Guidance: COVID-19 Precautions provides an overview of the key actions that provide operators and staff the tools to reduce risk of transmission, apply new sanitation and disinfecting practices, and recognize new social distancing while reopening operations. 

This training video features:

  • Knowing the symptoms of COVID-19 
  • Preventing the spread 
  • Recognizing actions to reduce employee and guest risk 
  • Keeping guests and employees safe
  • Guidelines for face coverings, hand washing, hand sanitizer use, and food handling
  • Guidelines for cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting 
  • Changes to maintain social distancing

Learn More/Get Video 

Milwaukee Skyline

Milwaukee Restart Program Provides Grants to Businesses

Restart is a program that helps Milwaukee businesses to reopen and adapt to the "new normal." Grants will assist for-profit businesses located in the City of Milwaukee that have 20 or fewer full-time or full-time equivalent employees and greater than $0 but less than $2 million in 2019 revenue. Restart grants are limited to one per business owner. All applicants must be current on property taxes owed to the City of Milwaukee up through the 2018 tax bill.

Businesses may apply to cover specific expenses associated with re-starting business operations including personal protective equipment for employees, modifications to business space and operations to adapt to COVID-19 pandemic and restock of perishable inventory.

Link to Application.  You will need to create an account.

Applications must be made online and will be accepted between May 28, 2020 and June 12, 2020.

More Info 

Deli Worker

Information to consider when deciding next steps when Wisconsin re-opens


There isn’t a one size fits all resolution for getting through this pandemic. When you decide what your next steps should be when dining rooms open back up, the most critical thing to consider will be the consumer. We’ve gathered some information on consumer trend outlooks that will help prepare you for the new reality once the industry re-opens.

Download PDF

Social Distancing Posters

Hand Washing Posters

Handwashing is the most effective means of preventing the spread of bacteria and viruses and can prevent contamination of food, utensils and equipment. Training is key! Don’t assume that your employees know the proper way to wash their hands.

To encourage employees to properly wash their hands, WRA created several new handwashing posters.

More Info


Back to Business Plan

The Wisconsin Restaurant Association is part of a coalition of groups who created the Back to Business Plan which is a proactive plan strategically designed to open Wisconsin businesses based on a number of risk factors and offers employers a clear vision for when and how they can begin to operate, once again.  The Back to Business Plan was developed with input from a diverse group of stakeholders, including those in business, government and the medical community. Additionally, it draws on best practices and recommendations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). WRA is advocating for proactively adopting this data-driven plan for reopening Wisconsin’s economy so that we are ready when it is deemed safe to do so.