North Carolina has clarified a long-standing rule banning non-service animals from restaurants by adding a caveat to exclude outdoor seating areas from the restriction.
Animals in restaurants are regulated as part of health inspections, said Larry Michael, head of the food protection branch of the state's Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Enforcement, however, has not been consistent due to varying interpretations of the rule. The clarification states that restaurants can choose whether to allow pets in their outdoor seating areas. Pets must be leashed, can't enter the restaurant and can't come in contact with employees preparing food or food service items.