Preparing for Holiday Celebrations with COVID-19 Precautions in Mind

Most are looking forward to the holidays bringing a sense of positive change from what we’ve experienced over the past several months.  As plans are being made, it is still important to not only keep our “food” safe during festivities, but for us to be “COVID” safe as well.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided several good resources to assist with preparations for the holidays with Covid-19 in mind to help keep our friends and families safe.

Let’s get ready for fun—and safe—holidays!

Limited Seats Still Available for Our December ServSafe Class

Free image/jpeg, Resolution: 3065x2043, File size: 1.25Mb, Classroom School table

Cobb & Douglas Public Health is presenting an in-person ServSafe class on December 9-10 from 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM.  The class will be located at the Marietta Health Center, Building B, 1738 County Services Pkwy, Marietta, GA 30008 in the 2nd Floor Training Room.  We will be taking COVID-19 precautions, which will include face coverings and social distancing for students and instructors.  The deadline for pre-registration is November 15th.

Feel free to share this information and course registration form with those you feel may be interested.

Updated Food Service Regulations and COVID-19 Guidance

The Georgia Department of Public Health has recently updated the Rules and Regulations for Food Service as well as their COVID-19 Guidance for Restaurant and Bars

The most recent change to the Food Service rules applies to the definition of a “food service establishment” which now exempts nonprofit temporary food service that operate for 120 hours or less from having to have a food service permit from Public Health.  [Those permits will now be issued by the municipal/county government of jurisdiction].

The latest COVID-19 guidance document reflects the CDC’s change regarding when a worker diagnosed with COVID-19 may return to work.  The timeframe has decreased from 3 days fever-free without the aid of fever reducing medicine to just 24 hours. 

Check out our Environmental Health COVID-19 guidance page to access more resources and guidance to assist you during these times.

Free Conflict De-Escalation Training for Restaurant Employees!

Recognizing that tensions are sometimes high when trying to maintain a safe customer and work environment, especially in the midst of taking  COVID precautions, the National Restaurant Association is offering FREE ServSafe Conflict De-escalation video training.  This is the newest of four COVID-19 Precautions  training videos that ServSafe is making available to restaurant operators and employees for free during this time.  Please check out these resources, as the need to stay vigilant in regard to COVID-19 continues to exist.

NEHA Is Searching for Food Safety Heroes!

During National Food Safety Education Month, the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) is paying tribute to those in the food industry who have been on the front lines during this time of COVID-19 pandemic response.  With that in mind, they have a Food Safety Heroes campaign going on throughout the month of September recognizing those in the food safety workforce that have excelled in their duties during this time.  If you know of such a person, please nominate him/her as a Food Safety Hero and check out NEHA’s Food Safety Heroes blog as individuals are highlighted.

Tools Now Available to Promote Food Safety Education Month!

The month of September is recognized nationally as Food Safety Education Month.  Although COVID-19 is definitely in the spotlight right now, let’s not let our guard down in regard to Food Safety because the CDC still states that an estimated 48 million Americans get sick and 3,000 die from eating contaminated food.       

The Partnership for Food Safety Education [which is comprised of the CDC, FDA, and USDA along with other contributing partners and special project supporters] has developed The Consumer Food Safety Educator EVALUATION TOOLBOX & GUIDE that provides several resources for Food Safety training and emphasis that can not only be used during this month but throughout the year.  The kit includes videos, posters and more.  Register to gain access to a wealth of resources for FREE. 

New State Law Affects Nonprofit Food Service Events

On August 5th, 2020, Governor Kemp signed the “Sandwich Bill” into law.  This allows nonprofit organizations to provide meals free of charge for up to 12 weeks between May 15 and August 15–along with four additional weeks during the calendar year—without having to have a Food Service permit from the local health authority.  This allows for the providing of meals during the times schools are out for the holidays and special occasions; however, those receiving funding from the United States Department of Agriculture are not included in this permit exemption.   Home-preparation of food is not allowed.

Article 14, which governs nonprofit sponsored events, was also further updated to better reflect current food safety guidance.  It also provides for the issuance of permits by the municipalities and county governments for nonprofit sponsored events; or any outdoor recreational activity sponsored by the state, county, municipality or related entity; or private school function; or indoor/outdoor public school function (except for public school cafeterias) operating no more than 120 hours.  The local health departments may be requested by the local governments to provide inspectionsnot permits—at such eventsAn inspection fee may be assessed by the local health department of jurisdiction for such requested inspections.  For example, Cobb & Douglas Public Health would assess an inspection fee for each vendor if such events are held in Cobb or Douglas counties.    Those temporary food service events operating for more than 120 hours but less than 14 days will be under the permitting authority of the local health department.

The Georgia Department of Public Health has prepared a Frequently Asked Questions About Nonprofit Food Service Events document to help answer questions you may have concerning this new law.  Our Food Service Regulations are being updated to include the change in determination of exemptions and definitions of a food service establishment.  Notification of the completion of the update will be provided in the near future.

Small Business Relief Grant Deadline is Today (8/21/20) at 5 PM

Excerpted from the Cobb Chamber of Commerce Email Newsletter:

Small business owners have until today at 5 p.m. to complete their applications for a SelectCobb Small Business Relief Grant. Thanks to the leadership of the Cobb Board of Commissioners, eligible businesses can receive up to $40,000 for personnel, utilities, rent, acquiring PPE, and other expenses.

These grants are keeping Cobb open for business! Help us spread the word about this funding opportunity. Applications are open until Friday, Aug. 21 at 5 p.m. at www.selectcobb.com/grants.

Reflective Guidance for the Latest Executive Order

The Georgia Department of Public Health has updated its COVID-19 GUIDANCE FOR RESTAURANTS AND ESTABLISHMENTS THAT MEET THE DEFINITION OF A “BAR” in response to Governor Kemp’s most recent Executive Order pertaining to COVID-19.  The requirements of the previous Executive Order are virtually the same in regard to food service establishments.  That includes the requirements for social distancing and the wearing of facial coverings by staff when in contact with customers.   Be sure to provide 6 feet of separation between table seatings or provide a form of physical barrier to separate seating that is within 6 feet of other seating.   Also, make sure hand sanitizer is provided for patrons and workers.   These areas are worth emphasizing right now because they are the most common source of complaints regarding non-compliance with Executive Order requirements. 

Shout-outs to each of you that are doing your part.  With a united effort to protect our personal health as well as that of our neighbor, we will achieve victory over COVID-19.  

In-Person ServSafe Class Offered in Douglas County

An in-person ServSafe Food Safety Managers Course will be hosted by Cobb & Douglas Public Health at the Douglas County Courthouse (8700 Hospital Drive, Douglasville, GA 30134) on August 25-26, 2020.  Attendees will be able to socially distance while receiving instruction to prepare for the ServSafe Food Safety Managers exam which will be administered at the end of the 2nd day of class.  If you need to re-certify, retest or take the course for the first time, please see the ServSafe Registration Form for more information.

Feel free to share this information with anyone that may be interested in taking the course.