But in some cases, a return to business does not look like a return to the way things were.
Here are five ways restaurants around the world have adapted to life under the coronavirus.
Plastic or plexiglass partitions positioned to divide diners are popping up across Asia. Restaurants in Europe are following suit.
One restaurant in France is even trying to attract diners with lampshade-like plastic coverings, which are also a novelty in themselves. Mathieu Manzoni, the director of the Parisian restaurant, H.A.N.D., told the Associated Press that the shields offered a “pretty, more poetic” option for virus-weary customers. The designer of Plex’Eat, as the plastic bubbles hanging from the ceiling are called, told the AP he was inspired by pods he saw in a store in Thailand.
Mannequins can serve as a way to keep people seated far apart without the space looking eerily empty. These are not the scary lifelike dolls of horror movies — or so restaurateurs hope.
One restaurant in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, has dressed its mannequins in the work of local fashion designers. “We want to fill the space with fun things,” the owner, Patrikas Ribas, told the AP.
Other restaurants are turning to stuffed animals. Teddy bears in particular appear to be a popular prop for keeping customers at a distance while maintaining levity.
The era of dirty, worn-in menus may be coming to a close. Restaurants are rethinking all their standard table elements, from the salt and pepper shakers to hot sauce bottles that countless customers might touch.
QR codes are emerging as one alternative to physical menus: With a quick scan, smartphone users can instead digitally access a restaurant’s menu.
Restaurants in Italy are required to collect customers’ contact information and keep it for a certain period in case they later learn that one of the other diners was infected.
But the approach has a dark side. In some countries, including China, tracking by QR code to fight the virus has expanded government surveillance.
In one Spanish bar, a robot expertly pours a frothy beer.
In a restaurant in southwestern Netherlands, the owners are trying out robots to serve and collect dishes.
In a South Korean cafe, a robot both takes orders and brings drinks to customers.
Entrepreneurs had been experimenting with service industry robots long before the coronavirus hit. But now there’s new hype around these prototypes as ways to decrease human-to-human contact that could spread the virus. The downside, however, is the same as before: the potential loss of jobs, even as unemployment soars.