COVID-19 continues to impact most business operations. While restaurants have largely been deemed essential businesses and allowed to stay open, they are subject to strict and rapidly changing regulations. Following social distancing recommendations and stay at home orders, almost every state has some limitations in place. For the most part, these limitations restrict restaurants to delivery or take-out orders only. States, counties and even cities may have specific COVID-19 guidelines for restaurants. For a list of resources and information by state click here.
FOLLOW LOCAL ANNOUNCEMENTS
Just like almost every aspect of life during the COVID-19 pandemic, guidelines and regulations for restaurants keep changing. Restaurant owners and their employees should closely follow local announcements regarding new regulations and modifications to existing regulations. Face mask requirements for non-healthcare individuals is a perfect example of a quickly-shifting regulations. Dallas County just announced a new regulation for people visiting or working in essential businesses and people riding public transportation. They must wear a cloth covering their face and nose or risk up to a $1,000 fine.
BEST PRACTICES FOR FOOD PICK-UP AND DELIVERY
In addition to following local regulations, restaurants should also be aware of the best practices for maintaining healthy food pick-up and delivery operations at their restaurants. The Food & Drug Administration (“FDA”) shared its list of best practices on the topic. The list gives guidelines for operating retail food stores, restaurants, and associated pick-up and delivery services during the COVID-19 pandemic. For the safety of workers and consumers, these are some of the COVID-19 guidelines for restaurants outlined by the FDA:
- Observe established food safety practices for time/temp control, preventing cross contamination, cleaning hands, sick workers, and storage of food, etc.
- Increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces such as counter tops and touch pads. In delivery vehicles, wipe down surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Establish designated pick-up zones for customers to help maintain social distancing.
The FDA list is not comprehensive. Use it as guidance in conjunction with other resources, including recommendations from the Center for Disease Control.
CONTINUED RESTRICTIONS WHEN RESTAURANTS RE-OPEN
Opinions differ on when and how dine-in operations will restart. However, it’s clear that it will not be anything like before the pandemic. For example, California’s Governor alluded to the fact the number of people allowed to eat in a restaurant at any given time will be reduced to provide for appropriate social distancing. In addition, servers and staff will almost definitely be wearing a face mask and gloves. Therefore, restaurants should make necessary preparations. We’ll have to wait and see how each city, county, and state regulates the re-opening of its restaurants.
Rogge Dunn Group handles all types of restaurant issues. The Firm represents single-unit operations to Fortune 1000 multi-concept restaurant concerns. Before becoming a restaurant lawyer, many of our Firm’s partners spent their pre-law years learning the restaurant business working as everything from servers to managers. We will continue to monitor COVID-19 related restaurant regulations and other legal issues unique to the restaurant industry. For more information, contact us here.