Guide to Reopening Your Restaurant

This guide provides guidance for dine-in restaurant to support a safe, clean environment for workers and customers. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has guidance for restaurants and the CDC has additional requirements in their guidance for businesses and employers.

Bars and Pubs should remain closed unless they are offering sit-down, dine-in meals. Alcohol can only be sold in the same transaction as a meal.

Restaurants should follow the guidance and should continue to encourage takeout and delivery service whenever possible.

Workplace Specific Plan

Establish a written, worksite-specific COVID-19 prevention plan, perform a comprehensive risk assessment of all work areas, and designate a person to implement the plan.

Train and communicate with employees and employee representatives on the plan.

Investigate any COVID-19 illness and determine if any work-related factors could have contributed to risk of infection.

Topics for Employee Training

Information on COVID-19, how to prevent it from spreading, and which underlying health conditions may make individuals more susceptible to
contracting the virus.

Self-screening at home, including temperature and/or symptom checks using CDC guidelines.

The importance of not coming to work if employees have a frequent cough, fever, difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, recent loss of taste or smell, or if they or someone they live with have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

The importance of frequent handwashing with soap and water, including scrubbing with soap for 20 seconds.

Proper use of face coverings, including:

  • Face coverings do not protect the wearer and are not personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Face coverings can help protect people near the wearer, but do not replace the need for physical distancing and frequent handwashing.
  • Employees should wash or sanitize hands before and after using or adjusting face coverings.
  • Avoid touching the eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Face coverings should be washed after each shift.

Individual Control Measures and Screening

Provide temperature and/or symptom screenings for all workers at the beginning of their shift and any vendors, contractors, or other workers entering the establishment. Both screeners and employees should wear face coverings for the screening.

If requiring self-screening at home, ensure that screening was performed prior to the worker leaving the home for their shift and follows CDC guidelines.

Encourage workers who are sick or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 to stay home.

Employers should provide and ensure workers use all required protective equipment, including face coverings and gloves where necessary.

Face coverings are strongly recommended when employees are in the vicinity of others. Workers should have face coverings available and wear them when at the restaurant. Face coverings must not be shared.

Restaurants should remind the public to use face coverings and practice physical distancing while waiting for service and take-out.

Servers and bussers who handle dirty cups, plates, napkins, trash bags, etc. should use disposable gloves and aprons. They should also wash their hands before putting them on and after removing them.

Dishwashers must protect their eyes, nose, and mouth from contaminant splash using a combination of face coverings, protective glasses, and/or face shields. Dishwashers must be provided impermeable aprons and must change them frequently. Reusable protective equipment such as shields and glasses should be properly disinfected between uses.

Cleaning and Disinfecting Protocols

Perform thorough cleaning in high traffic areas, such as customer waiting areas, break rooms, lunch areas and areas of ingress and egress including host stands, entry ways, stairways, stairwells, escalators, and handrails.

Frequently disinfect commonly used surfaces including doors, door handles, light switches, waiting area chairs, credit card terminals, ATM PIN pads, receipt trays, bus tubs, serving trays, water pitcher handles, phones, toilets, and handwashing facilities.

Frequently clean items touched by patrons, especially those that might attract contact from children including candy and toy vending machines, decorative fish tanks, display cases, decorative fountains, etc.

Clean touchable surfaces between shifts or between users, whichever is more frequent, including working surfaces, registers, tablets, appliances, kitchen utensils, oven doors, grill and range knobs, carts and trolleys, keys, etc.

Discontinue shared use of audio headsets and other equipment between employees unless the equipment can be properly disinfected after use.

Provide time for workers to implement cleaning practices during their shift.

Contract third-party cleaning companies to assist with the increased cleaning demand, as needed.

Equip dining rooms, bar areas, host stands, and kitchens with proper sanitation products, including hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes to all staff directly assisting customers.

Ensure bathrooms stay operational and stocked at all times and provide additional soap, paper towels, and hand sanitizer when needed.

Restaurants should increase fresh air circulation by opening windows or doors, if possible to do so.

Provide disposable menus to guests and make menus available digitally so that customers can view on a personal phone. If disposable menus cannot be provided, properly disinfect menus before and after customer use. Consider options for customers to order ahead of time.

Discontinue pre-setting tables with napkins, cutlery, glassware, food ware, etc. These should be supplied individually to customers as needed. Do not leave card stands, flyers, napkin holders, or other items on tables.

Suspend use of shared food items such as condiment bottles, salt and pepper shakers, etc. and provide these foods in single serve containers, if possible. Where this is not possible, shared items such as condiment bottles, shakers, etc., should be supplied as needed to customers and disinfected after each use.

Pre-roll utensils in napkins prior to use by customers. Employees must wash hands before pre-rolling utensils in napkins. The pre-roll should then be stored in a clean container. After customers are seated, the pre-roll should be put on the table by an employee who recently washed their hands.

Reusable customer items including utensils, food ware, breadbaskets, etc., must be properly washed, rinsed, and sanitized. Cleaned flatware, stemware, dishware, etc., must be properly stored away from customers and personnel until ready for use. Use disposable items if proper cleaning of reusable items is infeasible.

Takeout containers must be filled by customers and available only upon request.

Dirty linens used at dining tables such as tablecloths and napkins should be removed after each customer use and transported from dining areas in sealed bags. Employees should wear gloves when handling dirty linens.

Thoroughly clean each customer dining location after every use. This will include disinfecting tables, chairs, booster seats, highchairs, booths, etc. and allowing adequate time for proper disinfection.

Close areas where customers may congregate or touch food or food ware items that other guests may use. Provide these items to guests individually and discard or clean and disinfect after each use, as appropriate. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Self-service areas with condiment caddies, utensil caddies, napkins, lids, straws, water pitchers, to-go containers, etc.
  • Self-service machines including ice, soda, frozen yogurt dispensers, etc.
  • Self-service food areas such as buffets, salsa bars, salad bars, etc

Discontinue tableside food preparation and presentation such as food item selection carts and conveyor belts, guacamole preparation, etc.

Do not leave out after-meal mints, candies, snacks, or toothpicks for customers. Offer them with the check or provide only on request.

Install hand sanitizer dispensers, touchless if possible, at guest and employee entrances and contact areas such as driveways, reception areas, in dining rooms, etc.

Discontinue use of shared entertainment items such as board games, pool tables, arcade games, vending machines, etc. Close game and entertainment areas where customers may share items such as bowling alleys, etc.

Physical Distancing Guidelines

Prioritize outdoor seating and curbside pickup to minimize cross flow of customers in enclosed environments. Restaurants can expand their outdoor seating, and alcohol offerings in those areas, if they comply with local laws and regulations.

Provide takeout, delivery, and drive through options for customers when possible.

Encourage reservations to allow for time to disinfect restaurant areas and provide guidance via digital platforms if possible to customers for physical distancing while at the restaurant.

Consider allowing dine-in customers to order ahead of time to limit the amount of time spent in the establishment.

Ask customers to wait in their cars or away from the establishment while waiting to be seated. If possible, alert patrons through their mobile phones when their table is ready to avoid touching and use of “buzzers.”

Implement measures to ensure physical distancing of at least six feet between workers and customers. This can include use of physical partitions or visual cues (e.g., floor markings or signs to indicate to where employees and/or guests should stand).

Install physical barriers or partitions at cash registers, bars, host stands, and other areas where maintaining physical distance of six feet is difficult.

Any area where guests or employees queue should also be clearly marked for appropriate physical distancing. This includes check-stands and terminals, deli counters and lines, restrooms, elevator lobbies, host stands and waiting areas, valet drop off and pickup, and any other area where customers congregate.

Physical distancing protocols should be used in kitchens, pantries, walk-in freezers, or other high-density, high-traffic employee areas. Face coverings are required where employees cannot maintain physical distancing including in kitchens, storage areas, etc.

Employee pre-shift meetings and trainings should be conducted virtually or in areas that allow for appropriate physical distancing between employees. Food, beverages, food ware, etc., should not be shared.

Stagger employee breaks to maintain physical distancing protocols.

Consider offering workers who request modified duties options that minimize their contact with customers and other employees (e.g., managing inventory rather than working as a cashier)

Reconfigure office spaces, lobbies, beverage bars, kitchens and workstations, host stand areas, and other spaces wherever possible to allow for at least six feet of distance between people dining, working, and passing through areas for entry and exit.

Remove tables and chairs from dining areas so that six feet of physical distance can be maintained for customers and employees. If tables, chairs, booths, etc., cannot be moved, use visual cues to show that they are not available for use or install Plexiglas or other types of impermeable physical barriers to minimize exposure between customers.

Bar areas should remain closed to customers.

Discontinue seating of customers where customers cannot maintain six feet of distance from employee work and food and drink preparation areas.

Adjust maximum occupancy rules inside the establishment based on its size to limit the number of people inside and/or use impermeable barriers between service tables to protect customers from each other and employees. For outdoor seating, maintain physical distancing standards

Limit the number of patrons at a single table to a household unit or patrons who have asked to be seated together. People in the same party seated at the same table do not have to be six feet apart. All members of the party must be present before seating and hosts must bring the entire party to the table at one time.

Limit the number of employees serving individual parties.

Face coverings are required for any employee (e.g., server, manager, busser, food runner, etc.) who must be within six feet of customers. All restaurant workers should minimize the amount of time spent within six feet of guests.

Close breakrooms, use barriers, or increase distance between tables/chairs to separate workers and discourage congregating during breaks. Where possible, create outdoor break areas with shade covers and seating that ensures physical distancing.

Reconfigure kitchens to maintain physical distancing in those areas where practical and if not practical staggers shifts if possible to do work ahead of time.

Discourage food preparation employees from changing or entering others’ work stations during shifts.

Discourage employees from congregating in high traffic areas such as bathrooms, hallways, bar areas, reservation and credit card terminals, etc.

Establish directional hallways and passageways for foot traffic, if possible, to eliminate employees from passing by one another.

Require employees to avoid handshakes and similar greetings that break physical distance.

Eliminate person-to-person contact for delivery of goods whenever possible. Designate drop-off locations to receive deliveries away from high traffic areas. Maintain physical distance of at least six feet with delivery drivers.

Guests should enter through doors that are propped open or automated, if possible. Hand sanitizer should be available for guests who must touch door handles.

Implement peak period queueing procedures, including a host to remind guests to queue with at least six feet of distance between parties outside or in waiting areas.

Employees should not open the doors of cars or taxis.

Takeout food items should be made available using contactless pick-up nd delivery protocols.

Avoid touching others’ pens and clipboards. If possible, install transferaiding materials, such as shelving and bulletin boards, to reduce personto-person hand-offs

Considerations for Restaurants

Display a set of clearly visible rules for customers and restaurant personnel at the restaurant entrance(s) that are to be a condition of entry. The rules could include instructions to use hand sanitizer, maintain physical distance from other customers, avoid unnecessary touching of restaurant surfaces, contact information for the local health department, and changes to restaurant services. Whenever possible, the rules should be available digitally, include pictograms, and included on/with menus.

Guests and visitors should be screened for symptoms upon arrival, asked to use hand sanitizer, and to bring and wear a face covering when not eating or drinking. Appropriate signage should also be prominently displayed outlining proper face covering usage and current physical distancing practices in use at all entrances and throughout the property.

Licensed restaurants may sell “to-go” alcoholic beverages, prepared drinks, and pre-mixed cocktails provided they are sold and delivered to customers in conjunction with the sale and delivery of a meal/meals.

Live YouTube Video Presentation

In partnership with the Salinas United Business Association (SUBA), we’ve created a live YouTube video presentation. You can view the video below and download the presentation slides here:

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