Guidance Document Now Available for Restaurant Dining Rooms

The Georgia Department of Public Health has issued a guidance document to assist restaurant operators that would like to reopen their dining rooms to their customers.

If you have reopened your dining room or are contemplating doing so and have questions related to this or other aspects of your operation, please feel free to contact your local Environmental Health office (Cobb: (770) 435-7815; Douglas: (770) 920-7311) for assistance.

COVID-19 Executive Orders and Emergency Declarations Issued for Georgia, Counties, and Municipalities

The Georgia Department of Public Health has updated its COVID-19 Guidance – Restaurants and Food Service.   This update reflects the conditions of the  Executive Order issued by Governor Kemp on March 23, 2020  in regard to COVID-19 response and protection.   Throughout the state of Georgia, the Governor’s Executive Order bans public gatherings of more than 10 persons and ordered the closure of bars and nightclubs.  As defined by OCGA Code Section 3-1-2(2.1), “bar” refers to any premises at which a retailer licensed to sell alcoholic beverages derives 75 percent or more total annual gross revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises.  

Also, Cobb County, Douglas County and municipal governments, including Acworth, Austell, Douglasville, Kennesaw, Marietta, Powder Springs, and Smyrna, have each issued Executive Orders/Declarations of Emergency requiring that restaurant dining rooms be closed. However, restaurants may still sell food by way of take-out, drive-thru, and delivery service.  Keep in mind the need to maintain 6 ft clearance between customers when they place orders and wait for pick-ups.  Operators may want to post signage and visual reminders as to the need to maintain appropriate distance between individuals (such as colored tape on the floor marking spots for standing).  To help ensure distancing, some restaurants are having the customers wait in their cars until their orders are ready.  

Please contact our Environmental Health offices if you have any questions.  For Cobb County, call 770-435-7815 and for Douglas County call 770-920-7311

Virus Related Food Safety Resources

We recognize that many food service operators are trying to decide whether they should continue operating during this time and, if so, how they should move forward.  Some have made modifications, such as closing their dining rooms and offering take-out and drive-through service only.  Some buffets that are normally self-service are being manned by facility staff.  If you choose to continue to operate, please view the guidance that is posted on the Cobb & Douglas Public Health website page entitled Food Safety: Stop The Spread Of Viruses (Including Coronavirus).

The Georgia Department of Public Health has also provided COVID-19 Guidance – Restaurants & Food ServiceEach resource contains valuable information that includes links to handouts and other resources available for your use.

Additionally, the National Restaurant Association and the Georgia Restaurant Association are offering dedicated COVID-19 webpages that offer resources geared toward the food service industry, including links for food donation and mental health organizations.

Please continue to stay informed of local county and municipal direction along with checking the CDPH website and Food Safety blog for updates.  To follow our Food Safety blog and receive notifications of new posts, just enter your email address while on the site and accept the return email.

Thank you for your continued efforts to promote food safety—and best wishes to each of you.

Holiday Catering Food Safety Tips!

‘Tis the season for holiday parties, and a party just isn’t a party without plentiful food! With this increased demand for catering, restaurants that don’t traditionally cater may be approached to prepare, transport, and serve food that falls outside of their normal day-to-day operations. If you fall into this category, there are several food safety concerns that must be addressed before committing to such an event.

To make this assessment more convenient, Galen Baxter, the Food Service Program Director for the Georgia Department of Public Health, has created a guide for determining if you’re properly prepared to cater a holiday party or comparable event. Following these guidelines can help you make the correct decision when approached by party organizers for catering services and assure that food safety is a top priority if you decide to take on the job.