California Releases Detailed Guidelines for Dine-In Restaurants

© Sam Owens/ Courier & Press via Imagn

Today the Governor’s office released it’s spefic guidelines for the restaurant and service industry in conjunction with it’s efforts to reopen the economy.

Outbreaks of COIVD-19 have largely occurred in congregate settings such as nursing homes, prisons, warehouses, grocery stores, and nightclubs. As the state of California sees it’s infection and death rates steadying, though not decreasing, they have laid out guidelines for restaurant on how to properly operate under the second phase of the mandated health order. The document that was release today largely operates under these pillars of health and sanitation:  physical distancing, use of face coverings by employees and customers/clients, frequent hand washing and disinfection, and training employees on COVID-19.

Governor Newsom says so far 70% of the state’s economy has been reopened to some degree though many regions like the Bay Area and L.A. are moving at slower rates. Thus, the application of these guidelines will vary from county to county.

The guidelines are quite specific and detailed so we’ve highlighted the major points below. See the full document here.

Cleaning and Disinfecting Protocols

  • Provide disposable menus to guests and make menus available digitally so that customers can view on a personal electronic device. If disposable menus cannot be provided, properly disinfect menus before and after customer use.
  • Discontinue pre-setting tables with napkins, cutlery, glassware, food ware, etc. 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. Where this is not possible, shared items should be disinfected after each use.
  • Takeout containers must be filled by customers.
  • 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 area after every use allowing adequate time for proper disinfection and following product instructions.
  • Close areas where customers may congregate or touch food or food ware items that other guests may use.
    • Self-service areas including ice, soda, frozen yogurt dispensers, buffets, salsa bars, salad bars, etc.
  • Install hand sanitizer dispensers, touchless if possible, at guest and employee entrances and contact areas such as driveways, reception areas, in dining rooms, near elevator landings, etc.

Physical Distancing Guidelines

  • Provide takeout, delivery, drive through, curbside pickup, and outdoor seating option for customers when possible.
  • Encourage reservations to allow for time to disinfect restaurant areas
  • 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 use of “buzzers.”
  • Implement measures to ensure physical distancing of at least six feet between workers and customers, including the removal of tables and chairs from dining areas. This can include use of physical partitions, such as Plexiglas or other types of impermeable barriers, or visual cues
  • Employee pre-shift meetings and trainings should be conducted virtually or in areas that allow for appropriate physical distancing between employees.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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. Make sure the temperature/symptom screener avoids close contact with workers to the extent possible. Both screeners and employees should wear face coverings for the screening
  • 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 work, in offices, or in a vehicle during work-related travel with others.
    • Face coverings must not be shared.
    • Face coverings do not protect the wearer and are not personal protective equipment (PPE).
    • Face coverings should be washed after each shift.
  • Frequently disinfect high traffic areas and commonly used surfaces including lobbies, doors, door handles, registers, light switches, credit card terminals, receipt trays, grill knobs, serving trays, water pitcher handles, phones, toilets, and hand washing facilities.
  • Provide time for workers to implement cleaning practices during their shift. Cleaning assignments should be assigned during working hours as part of the employees’ job duties.
  • Equip spaces such as dining rooms, bar areas, host stands, and kitchens with proper sanitation products, including hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes to all staff directly assisting customers.
  • Use disinfectants labeled to be effective against emerging viral pathogens, diluted household bleach solutions (5 tablespoons per gallon of water), or alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol that are appropriate for the surface.

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