Updated Food Service Reopening Guidance Tools Are Now Available!

As more food service operations are opening their dining rooms, operators are reminded of the need to comply with the requirements found in Governor Kemp’s Executive Order from May 12, 2020 and to stay alert for any additional updates.  The Georgia Department of Public Health has updated its  COVID-19 GUIDANCE FOR RESTAURANTS WITH DINING ROOM SEATING  to reflect updates in the Executive Order.   

To assist operators with their plans for compliance, the National Restaurant Association has released its Reopening Guidelines training video as the 3rd tool in its series of free COVID-19 response videos for food service facilities. All three training videos are available in English and Spanish and are presented via ServSafe, the organization’s educational arm.  The Reopening Guidelines presents an overview of important actions that help to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission by applying new sanitation and disinfecting practices, and recognizing new social distancing requirements that are key components to safely reopening food service operations.

Social Distancing and Restaurants

Social distancing, as defined by CDC, is the “remaining out of congregate settings ”—which would be an environment in which a number of people gather for a period of time— “and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.”   The CDC is highly encouraging “social distancing” to help minimize the spread of coronavirus-19 and the guidance advises that gatherings of 50 or more people be postponed throughout the United States.  The guidance does not apply to organizations like restaurants and other day-to-day business operations; however, states and municipalities can impose limits themselves.  As of this date, Governor Kemp has not stated that Georgia restaurants must close their dining rooms, but to encourage effective social distancing, it is strongly recommended that restaurants only offer take-out and/or drive-thru service.  If the dining area does remain open, it is recommended that customers be seated as far apart as possible. And if food is served from a buffet, it is recommended that the buffet be well-monitored, and that the food is served directly to customers by restaurant staff. 

Also check out ServSafe’s Coronavirus: What Can You Do? guide, which offers coronavirus information tailored for the food service industry. Coronavirus related information updates often as more is learned about this illness, so please routinely check other resources like the CDC’s and CDPH’s dedicated coronavirus webpages for updates.

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.

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.

Coronavirus Webinar Update

Thanks to our readers, we were notified that the link we provided for the National Restaurant Association’s Preparing for Coronavirus: Steps for Foodservice and Restaurant Readiness was a single use link. Fortunately, this webinar is still available for on-demand viewing once registration is completed at the following link: https://event.on24.com/eventRegistration/EventLobbyServlet?target=reg20.jsp&referrer=&eventid=2216823&sessionid=1&key=50D3E4DFAC40026D6518A91355C476F9&regTag=&sourcepage=register

The National Restaurant Association is also curating coronavirus virus related information targeted to those in the food service industry that can be found here: https://restaurant.org/Manage-My-Restaurant/Business-Operations/preparedness/Covid19

Coronavirus Restaurant Readiness Webinar

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) will be providing Preparing for the Coronavirus: Steps for Foodservice and Restaurant Readiness, an informational webinar especially planned for the Food Service Industry, on March 10th, at 2:00 PM EST.   To register for the webinar and/or to access the NRA’s Coronavirus Information and Resource page click here.