As part of their security measures, states are limiting the dining capacity in the restaurants to ensure social distancing. Restaurants in Texas can reopen their dining rooms to 25 percent capacity while Arkansas and Kentucky can re-open with 33 percent, Delaware with 30 percent, Colorado, Indiana, Florida, Lowa, Michigan, Mississippi, and Connecticut with 50 percent, and Montana with 75 percent.
There are varied guidelines and the CDC and NRA have offered supplementary advice.
The CDC has classified the risk at restaurants and bars into four types depending upon the level of interaction.
The lowest risk is posed by drive-through and takeout facilities. “More Risk” is by dining on-site but limited to outdoor seating—seating arrangements that are 6 feet apart.
“Even More Risk” is by on-site dining with outdoor as well the indoor seating with 6 feet distance between the seating tables.
The highest risk is “on-site dining with both indoor and outdoor seating. Seating capacity not reduced and tables not spaced at least 6 feet apart.”
Meanwhile, the CDC has offered hand hygiene and respiratory etiquettes and cloth face covering. “Face coverings are most essential in times when physical distancing is difficult,” noted the CDC.
Guidance by the NRA
The National Restuarant Association’s guidance document offers best practices for reopening and touches upon food safety, cleaning and sanitizing, employee health monitoring, personal hygiene, and social distancing.
“Where salad bars and buffets are permitted by local/state officials, they must have sneeze guards in place. Change, wash, and sanitize utensils frequently and place appropriate barriers in open areas. Alternatively, cafeteria-style (worker served) is permissible with appropriate barriers in place,” the NRA outlined in its Reopening Guidance (pdf).
It asks operators to avoid using sharing objects like menus, condiments, and food orders.
“Use disposable or digital menus; toss disposable menus after each use. Opt for single-use condiments. Use no-touch trash cans,” they said.
The NRA also asked operators to use disposable food service items like utensils and dishes.
“If disposable items are not feasible, ensure that all non-disposable foodservice items are handled with gloves and wash according to FDA Food Code requirements,” said the NRA.