Reopening:Guidance for theRestaurant IndustryGuidance Documentaiha.orgPhoto courtesy of Getty Images
Guidance DocumentReopening: Guidance for the Restaurant IndustryOverviewThe restaurant industry has quickly adapted to stayat-home orders across the U.S. Many establishmentshave come up with unique solutions such as offeringreduced menus, drive-thru or curb-side pick up usingapps and texts to manage orders, no contact delivery, combo or boxed meals that fare better in to-gocontainers, and even implementing robotics for foodhandling (LINK). The industry has also stepped upto support communities, including donating food atrisk of going to waste to local food banks, and offering free coffee and snacks to essential workers suchas police officers, firefighters, paramedics, doctors,nurses, and hospital employees (LINK).With stay-at-home restrictions beginning to lift,restaurant owners are faced with difficult questionsthat must be addressed before reopening, such as: How can we protect our employees and customersfrom the disease while dining at our restaurant? How do we assure our customers that we are doing all we can to protect them from the disease? How can we minimize the risk of disease transmission if those that are ill or those who have had contact with positive COVID-19 people dine in? What do we do if a customer is sick or not following guidelines?Notably, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), currently there is no evidence to supporttransmission of COVID-19 associated with food(LINK). Existing food safety requirements are alreadyvery stringent and reduce the likelihood of foodbornedisease transmission. Additional measures can betaken to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19from touching surfaces or from person-to-personspread through respiratory droplets.This document offers practical guidance for restaurant owners to implement measures to reduce therisk of transmitting COVID-19. It addresses the keyquestions above, and also provides tips for restaurant employees and customers.What should an Employer do to protectthemselves and their customersRestaurant owners should continually monitor international (World Health Organization (WHO)), federal (CDC), state, and local guidelines for changesin recommendations, cleaning strategies, and otherbest management practices. Employers should alsoconsider developing a team of professionals to monitor, assess, and implement new strategies as theybecome available. In addition, employers shouldconsider the following strategies for reducing therisk of COVID-19 transmission in regards to physicaldistancing, ventilation, enhanced cleaning practices,restrooms, food preparation areas and contact surfaces, personal hygiene, employee wellness, personal protective equipment, training, waste and laundering, and communication.Physical Distancing Limit the number of patrons dining at one time.Consider starting with a “Reservation Only policy”to start. Limit the group size to six or less. Mark distances of 6 feet for customers waiting tobe seated. Consider having customers wait in theircars until called to be seated. Try to distance tables or customers so that thenearest customer at one table is at least to 6 feetfrom another customer at another table.– If tables cannot be moved, consider putting signage on every other table or booth marking themas “PHYSICAL DISTANCE TABLE” or “RESERVEDFOR YOUR SAFETY”. Consider Plexiglass partitions between booths as an alternative. Place plastic partitions between employees andcustomers wherever possible (e.g., fast food windows, host stands, and bars).AIHA 3141 Fairview Park Dr., Suite 777 Falls Church, VA 22042 aiha.org aiha 2020DISCLAIMER: These are meant to be general guidelines to help you re-open your establishment.Always follow local, state and federal laws and guidelines.Page 2 of 6
Guidance DocumentReopening: Guidance for the Restaurant Industry In lieu of bars, consider providing table-only service for alcoholic beverages.– Alternatively, consider handing out signs at thebar that customers can use to put on either sideof them to maintain physical distancing. Consider non-traditional ordering and paymentprocessing to minimize contact time between servers and customers.– Consider an app-based system– Consider writing a numbered menu on a wall/large board that can be easily communicated ata distance.– Encourage credit card use over cash, when possible.Ventilation Encourage outdoor seating, to the extent possible. Ensure restaurant is properly ventilated based onanticipated maximum capacity with proper filtration Discontinue the use of any ceiling fans Ensure restroom ventilation is under negative pressure with proper filtration. Consider consulting an expert in Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems todetermine the maximum level of filtration can beinstalled safely and effectively (e.g, HEPA filterswith the highest Minimum Efficiency Rating Value (MERV) rating allowable by the HVAC systemwithout compromising functionality). See ASHRAEupdates for more information.– Ideally airflow should move vertically and nothorizontally. Disinfect HVAC intakes dailyEnhanced Cleaning Practices Select appropriate disinfectants – consider effectiveness and safety– The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)has developed a list of products that meet EPA’scriteria for use against SARS-CoV-2.– Review product labels and Safety Data Sheetsand follow manufacturer specifications– Consider consulting industrial hygiene experts ifadditional advice is needed Establish a disinfection routine - no more wet ragapproach (use disposable products instead).– Ensure disinfection protocols follow product instructions for application and contact time.– Consider establishing a single staff positionwhose responsibility is to disinfect. This personshould be continuously cleaning and visible tocustomers.– Each table, chairs (as possible), and partitionsshould be disinfected after each customer.– As noted above, clean HVAC intakes daily.– Consider using a checklist or audit system totrack how often cleaning is conducted. Consider covering chairs in a non-porous materialfor easy cleaning. Menus should be non-porous and disinfected between use. If paper menus are used, make themsingle use only. Consider alternatives like a menuboard or phone app. Apron, towels, work clothing, etc. should be placedin trash bags and treated as potentially contaminated and laundered per recommendations below.Restrooms Doors to multi-stall restrooms should be able to beopened and closed without touching handles if atall possible.– Place a trash can by the door if the door cannotbe opened without touching the handle.AIHA 3141 Fairview Park Dr., Suite 777 Falls Church, VA 22042 aiha.org aiha 2020DISCLAIMER: These are meant to be general guidelines to help you re-open your establishment.Always follow local, state and federal laws and guidelines.Page 3 of 6
Guidance DocumentReopening: Guidance for the Restaurant Industry For single restrooms, provide signage and materials (paper towels and trash cans) for individuals touse without touching the handles. Place signs indicating that toilet lids (if present)should be closed before flushing. Place signs asking customer and employees towash hands before and after using the restroom. Provide paper towels in restrooms and disconnector tape-off hand air dryers. Double efforts to keep bathrooms clean and properly disinfected.Food Preparation Areas and Contact Surfaces Place adhesive floor mats at entrances and at theentrances of food preparation areas. Cover any exposed clean silverware, dishes, glasses, pots and pans. Relocate hanging bar glasses toa covered area. Provide silverware wrapped or covered at the table, along with glasses turned upside down on aclean napkin. Use disposable napkins and tablecloths whereverpossible.– Only use cloth tablecloths if they are changed foreach patron and properly laundered after eachuse, per recommendations below. Any items left by customers should be placed insealed bags and the bag should be disinfected andisolated until customer returns. Remove all condiments from the table (e.g., ketchup bottles, salt and pepper shakers, etc.) and consider providing pre-packaged condiments or include condiments as part of the cleaning routine.Personal Hygiene Establish a “before and after service” hand washing or sanitizing for all staff including bar staff.– Staff should wash hands between serving andclearing dishes or establish a dedicated personto clear dishes and wait staff arrange for dishpick up if a patron requests their dishes cleared. Provide hand-washing stations at the front of theestablishment and throughout the establishmentfor customers to wash hands before being seatedor when needed, or alternatively, hand sanitizer ifnot feasible. Provide hand sanitizer at each table.Employee Wellness Conduct employee temperature screening andwellness checks before each shift.– Temperature screening can include manual (usenon-contact infrared thermometers) or thermalcamera methods.– Employees can self-check temperature, whilewearing a glove, or disinfect between use.– There are a number of examples available forwellness questionnaires (see Resources below) If employee is sick or receives any kind of testing(virus or antibody), results should be reported toemployer and timing/decision to go back to workshould only be with doctor’s approval.Personal Protective Equipment Require gloves for all back of house (BOH) staffand ensure the gloves are changed per current industry standards. Although not necessary if hand-washing protocolsare rigorously followed, consider providing glovesto servers.– If they are worn, they must be changed regularlyand are not a substitution for hand-washing. Require face coverings for BOH staff – type depends on local requirements and availability.AIHA 3141 Fairview Park Dr., Suite 777 Falls Church, VA 22042 aiha.org aiha 2020DISCLAIMER: These are meant to be general guidelines to help you re-open your establishment.Always follow local, state and federal laws and guidelines.Page 4 of 6
Reopening: Guidance for the Restaurant IndustryTrainingGuidance Documentnot following guidelines (e.g., physical distancing). Provide instruction and training to employees onhow to:– Handle their work clothing properly at home iflaundry service is not provided– Properly put on and remove gloves– Clean and disinfect tables according to productspecifications– Correctly use respirators Provide Safety Data Sheets for cleaning chemicalsand ensure employees are aware of the hazards ofuse Industrial hygienists have expertise in selectingPPE and training.Waste and Laundering Single-use items and used disinfection materialscan be treated as regular waste, following foodsafety guidelines. Cloth materials (e.g., linens, aprons, etc.) should bewashed and dried on the highest temperature setting allowable for the fabric.Communication Communicate to the diners what the restaurantis doing to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 (e.g.,disinfection routine, health policies for staff, andhealth & safety measures in place).– Consider communicating to diners when diningout may not be a good option (e.g. taking careof someone who is COVID-19 positive, exhibitingsymptoms of COVID-19, being in a high-risk category, etc.).– Consider placing signage on tables to show thatthey have been disinfected after previous customers. Communicate that the restaurant has the right torefuse service to anyone exhibiting symptoms or Platforms for communication could include websites, reservation processes, hand-outs, and outdoor signage.What should an Employee do toprotect themselves and the customers Evaluate your health constantly, if you are sickstay home. If you have a temperature stay home.If someone at home is sick, stay home. If you haveallergies and sneezing, stay home. Wear mask when out in public and maintain physical distancing. Wash your hands when you arrive at work, after each customer, after touching your mask andwhen you leave work. Wear mask at work at all times (homemade, surgical, N95 when available).– If you own an N95 mask that was unable to bedonated, it would provide the most protection foryou and those around you. Let your employer know if you have concerns aboutthe PPE that is being provided. Carry a towel, if you get the urge to sneeze orcough, cover your nose, mouth and mask, pinch orwiggle nose to delay the urge to sneeze or cough,immediately leave the building, wash your handsand face thoroughly before going back to work.What can a Customer can do tominimize the transmission of Covid-19 If you are sick stay home. If you have a temperature stay home. If someone in your house is sick,stay home. If you have allergies and can’t controlsneezing, stay home. Use take-out/pick-up services where you can. Wear a mask as you enter and leave the building.AIHA 3141 Fairview Park Dr., Suite 777 Falls Church, VA 22042 aiha.org aiha 2020DISCLAIMER: These are meant to be general guidelines to help you re-open your establishment.Always follow local, state and federal laws and guidelines.Page 5 of 6
Guidance DocumentReopening: Guidance for the Restaurant Industry Wash your hands before and after you leave thebuilding if possible. If not, use hand sanitizer whenyou sit down and before you leave the building. Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from othercustomers and employees when waiting for a table and when walking throughout the restaurant tothe extent possible. If you get the urge to sneeze or cough, put on yourmask, cover your nose, mouth, and mask with anapkin or handkerchief, pinch or wiggle nose to delay the urge to sneeze or cough, immediately leavethe building, wash your hands and face thoroughlybefore seating back down.Resources The National Restaurant Association has compiled information and resources for the restaurantindustry, including employer guidelines, safety tips,and links to news articles and state usiness/Assoc-State-Covid19-Resources.pdf Numerous wellness questionnaire examples areavailable online (e.g., ning Q&A.pdf) The CDC has developed cleaning and disinfection recommendations for commercial v/community/disinfecting-building-facility.html The EPA has developed a list of disinfectants foruse against SARS-CoV-2: disinfectants-useagainst-sars-cov-2 ASHRAE has a list of COVID resources for commercial buildings. es AIHA’s Indoor Environmental Quality Committeedeveloped this guidance document about reopening buildings after closures due to romCOVID-19BuildingClosures GuidanceDocument.FINAL.pdfAIHA Founded in 1939, the American Industrial HygieneAssociation (AIHA ) is one of the largest international associations serving the needs of industrial/occupational hygiene professionals practicing inindustry, government, labor, academic institutions,and independent organizations.For more information, visit www.AIHA.orgAbout Occupational Health and SafetyProfessionalsOccupational health and safety (OHS) professionals (also known as industrial hygienists) practicethe science of anticipating, recognizing, evaluating,and controlling workplace conditions that may causeworkers’ injury or illness. Through a continuous improvement cycle of planning, doing, checking andacting, OHS professionals make sure workplaces arehealthy and safe.Get additional resources at AIHA’sCoronavirus Outbreak Resource Center.https: /coronavirus outbreak resourcesFind a qualified industrial hygiene and OEHS professionals near you in our Consultants Listing. https://www.aiha.org/consultants-directory.AIHA 3141 Fairview Park Dr., Suite 777 Falls Church, VA 22042 aiha.org aiha 2020DISCLAIMER: These are meant to be general guidelines to help you re-open your establishment.Always follow local, state and federal laws and guidelines.Page 6 of 6
Cloth materials (e.g., linens, aprons, etc.) should be washed and dried on the highest temperature set-ting allowable for the fabric. Communication Communicate to the diners what the restaurant is doing to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 (e.g., disinfection routine, health policies for staff, and health & safety measures in place).