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Restaurants, Bars & Hotels: Safety and Social Distancing FAQs and Recommendations

Q. What are the CDC guidelines for restaurants and bars?

The CDC guidelines for restaurants and bars talk in detail about the best practices to follow to limit the risk of spread for employees, customers, and communities at large. There are detailed steps about maintaining a healthy environment as well as healthy operations in the restaurant and/or bar. The guidelines also specify how businesses should manage sick employees, encourage employees who feel sick to stay at home, and put in place proper communication systems.
CDC also recommends the use of masks by employees and customers, practicing hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, maintaining social distancing as much as possible. It requires businesses to ensure an adequate supply of materials such as soap, sanitizers, paper towels, masks, disinfectant wipes, etc. Social distancing signs for restaurants and bars should be posted to communicate their social distancing policies and prevention measures.

Q. Can Covid-19 spread through food?

According to the FDA, there is no evidence yet to prove that Covid-19 can spread through food or food containers and packaging. Nevertheless, you should follow safe practices and wash your hands after handling food containers/packaging, removing food from it, before preparing/heating food, and before eating.

Q. What specific measures can I take to keep contamination in check in the kitchen of the restaurant/bar?

Keeping contamination in check in the kitchen can be tricky but it can be managed if you adopt a few preventive measures as listed below:
1. Limit the number of staff members in the kitchen by implementing shift rotations.
2. Make the use of masks and gloves mandatory, in accordance with the guidelines issued by the CDC, FDA, OSHA, and relevant local authorities.
3. Maintain an adequate stock of cleaning supplies and EPA-recommended disinfectants.
4. Ensure strict compliance of a comprehensive cleaning and disinfecting procedure that is repeated multiple times a day and takes into account all contact surfaces including doorknobs and switchboards, dishware and utensils, counters, floors, etc.
5. Educate and train the staff, and use proper COVID safety signage to remind them of frequent handwashing, respiratory etiquette, and maintaining social distancing.
6. Ensure all food is handled at the recommended temperature, and thoroughly cleaned before preparation.
You may refer to the FDA guidelines for more details.

Q. How can I politely urge my patrons to follow new seating arrangements?

This can be done by ensuring patrons are timely informed about the new policies and practices being followed and the reasons for doing so. You can appoint a person to handle this communication and answer any COVID-19 related customer queries.
You can also use signage to visually communicate the new seating arrangement. Signs act as constant yet subtle reminders.

Q. What are the ways to ensure that people carrying potential threats do not enter our premises?

The highly contagious nature of coronavirus and the fact that it can be asymptomatic make threat screening and exposure prevention a tough task. Nevertheless, there are ways you can adopt to mitigate the risks.
1. Set up temperature screening stations at the entrance.
2. Install signs that provide information about the disease, its symptoms, and preventive measures.
3. Use signs that urge customers and staff members to avoid entering if they feel unwell.