Outdoor dining ― keeping your employees, customers and property safe

The below guidance is intended to address physical premises exposures, and does not address COVID related safety practices. For COVID-related health and safety practices, please visit

Note: Prior to implementing any outdoor dining, consult with your local jurisdiction (town, village, city, etc.) on the requirements for outdoor dining and any permits that need to be obtained. The below guidance is intended to supplement your local requirements.

Worker’s compensation and general liability – keeping employees and customers safe

  • The construction of any tents and/or temporary wooden structures should be completed by professional contractors with proper risk transfer controls in place (click here to view our contract management advisory).
  • Tents and temporary wooden structures should be inspected regularly by a qualified person to ensure structural integrity and securement.
  • Umbrellas and any standing coverings should be properly secured and removed during high winds.
  • Consider using highly visible railings or other enclosures to clearly outline the dining area from the parking lot and any area of vehicle travel.
  • Vehicle traffic barriers or other devices should be used to protect the area and designate areas of vehicle travel – consult with your local public works department for the appropriate solutions for your area.
  • If creating walking surfaces, avoid the use of loose materials such as sand and gravel, and use textured or non-slip surface materials.
  • Develop a maintenance plan to keep all walking and surface areas free of litter and debris to reduce the potential for a trip and fall hazard.
  • Ensure sufficient clearances and walkways in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • Ensure adequate lighting is placed around all walking surfaces and properly secured.
  • Any curbing, platforms, or raised surfaces should be painted yellow and/or with a reflective coating to reduce the potential for trips and falls.
  • Place clear signage/markings/lighting around any storm drains, manholes, utility boxes and other areas that can create trip and fall hazards.
  • Tape down or provide coverings for all cords running along the ground. Ensure all cords or other items in a walkway are secured and do not create a tripping hazard.
  • In cold climates, the dining area should not be placed in areas where water can pool or drain from gutters and freeze, thereby causing a slip and fall hazard. Regular salting of all walking surfaces should be completed before and during dining operations,

Property – reducing the potential for damage

  • The use of heating devices should be restricted to self-contained propane and electric heaters that are UL listed and in good operating condition.
  • Heating devices should be set up and operated per the manufacturer’s instructions, as well as placed with a 3ft clearance on all sides from any combustibles, overhangs/umbrellas, banners, tables, “dining bubbles”, patrons, etc.
  • Customers should be made aware of heater placement and instructed not to touch/move heaters. If a heater is to be moved, this should be done by a staff member trained in the operation of the unit.
  • Open flame heaters, fire places, fire pits, torches, etc. should be avoided.
  • Fire extinguishers should be properly placed and secured around the dining area for use in an emergency.
  • Generators should be avoided due to the ignition potential and carbon monoxide exposure.
  • All electrical devices used for heating, lighting, sound, etc. must be exterior rated and GFCI protected.
  • If parking lot traffic is being rerouted, ensure signage, barricades and markings are clear to avoid any vehicles making contact with the building and/or temporary structures.
  • Do not block fire hydrants and fire department building connections with any tables, structures, or other items so that they can be easily accessed by the fire department in an emergency.

This material is provided for informational purposes only and does not provide any coverage or guarantee loss prevention. The examples in this material are provided as hypothetical and for illustration purposes only. The Hanover Insurance Company and its affiliates and subsidiaries (“The Hanover”) specifically disclaim any warranty or representation that acceptance of any recommendations contained herein will make any premises, or operation safe or in compliance with any law or regulation.  By providing this information to you, The Hanover does not assume (and specifically disclaims) any duty, undertaking or responsibility to you.  The decision to accept or implement any recommendation(s) or advice contained in this material must be made by you.


LC 2020-566