How to Safely Reopen Restaurants During COVID-19

Since the onset of COVID-19, restaurants have received significant attention from healthcare professionals and consumers regarding dining at a restaurant safely.

Following local and national government guidance, many restaurants have shifted their business models and introduced unique solutions such as reduced menus, no-contact pickup or delivery services, combo or boxed meals that fare better in to-go containers mobile ordering solutions. Additionally, some restaurants have benefitted from outdoor seating arrangements, which pose less risk of transmitting COVID-19 than indoor restaurant dining.

As stay-at-home restrictions continue to lift, some consumers may prefer to resume in-restaurant dining. This poses several questions for foodservice professionals regarding how to reopen a restaurant during COVID-19 safely, including:

  • How can we protect our employees and customers from COVID-19 while dining at our restaurant?
  • How do we assure our restaurant customers that we are doing everything we can to protect them from the disease?
  • What are the best practices to minimize the risk of disease transmission at dine-in restaurants?
  • What do we do if a restaurant customer is sick or not following COVID-19 safety guidelines?

With these questions in mind, AIHA has created this “Back to Work Safely: Guidance for the Restaurant Industry Guidance Document, 2nd edition” guide to offer practical advice for how to resume in-person dining during COVID-19 safely. The guidance borrows from the latest advice given by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as expert advice from other leading health, government, and food service organizations.

These reopening guidelines share actional steps and recommendations to protect restaurant diners and employees, including information on the following key areas:

  • What should a restaurant owner or manager do to protect themselves, their customers, and their staff from the spread of COVID-19?
    • Guidance on how to enable physical distancing in restaurant and dining environments, including how to arrange tables
    • Ways to alter bar service at a restaurant during COVID-19
    • Restaurant ventilation considerations, including how to position pedestal or hard-mounted fans
    • Enhanced cleaning practices, including a list of products that meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2
    • How to decontaminate restaurant employee aprons, towels, and uniforms
    • Recommended signage to place in a restaurant regarding how to limit the spread of COVID-19
    • How to disinfect restaurant bathrooms and recommended procedures to limit contact with high-touch surfaces like sinks and soap dispensers
    • How to conduct a restaurant employee wellness check, including temperature screenings
    • What to do if a restaurant employee or customer is sick or has been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19
    • Guidelines for cafeterias or cafeteria-style restaurants
  • What should a restaurant employee or customer do to minimize the transmission of COVID-19?
    • Self-monitoring best practices
    • Recommended PPE for restaurant employees and customers
    • Best practices to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19 while eating at a restaurant
    • Ways to support a restaurant without visiting it in-person
    • What to do if you feel the urge to sneeze or cough in a restaurant

Download our “Back to Work Safely: Guidance for the Restaurant Industry Guidance Document, 2nd edition” guidance document today to learn how to reopen a restaurant during COVID-19 safely.