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The National Restaurant Association has released COVID-19 guidelines for restaurants to follow when reopening dining rooms.

National Restaurant Association releases coronavirus reopening guide for industry

Recommendations include sanitizing tabletops between seatings, discarding single-use items like paper menus and installing sneeze guards along buffet bars.

With Georgia set to allow restaurants to reopen dining rooms as early as Monday, the National Restaurant Association has released a comprehensive COVID-19 reopening guide for the industry to ensure a safe and secure environment for employees and guests.

The 10-page guide, created with input from the FDA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Environmental Protection Agency, lists a variety of recommendations such as sanitizing tabletops between seatings, discarding single-use items like paper menus and installing sneeze guards along buffet bars. 

The association, which says the industry is poised to lose $80 billion by the end of the month, said the guidance builds on already established best practices restaurants have put in place since the spread of COVID-19. 

“Adding to current best practices is an approachable way for owners and managers to put the modified protocols into practice as state and local officials begin to open communities,”  Sherman Brown, executive vice president, training and certification, said in a statement. 

Other states poised to reopen non-essential businesses by May 1 include Tennessee and South Carolina.

Reopening tips, which can be downloaded from the NRA website,  include: 

  • Where salad bars and buffets are permitted, they must have sneeze guards. Change, wash and sanitize utensils frequently and place appropriate barriers in open areas.
  • If providing a “grab and go” service, stock coolers to no more than minimum levels.
  • Thoroughly detail, clean and sanitize entire facility, especially if it has been closed.  
  • Between seatings, clean and sanitize table condiments, digital ordering devices, check presenters, self-service areas, tabletops, and common touch areas. Single-use items should be discarded. Consider using rolled silverware and eliminating table presets.
  • Remove lemons and unwrapped straws from self service drink stations.
  • Clean and sanitize reusable menus. 
  • Discard paper menus after each customer use.
  • Avoid all food contact surfaces when using disinfectants.
  • Make hand sanitizer readily available to guests.
  • Consider touchless hand sanitizing solutions.
  • In terms of employees, the NRA said employee temperature checks can be done at the discretion of the employer though it is not mandated by the CDC.
  • Employers should follow local and state requirements when it comes to face coverings, which the CDC recommends as an effective tool to mitigate risk from individuals who show COVID-19 symptoms. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has had catastrophic impacts on the restaurant industry due to shelter-at-home mandates. 

On Monday, the National Restaurant Association asked Congress for a $240 billion recovery fund for the restaurant industry, which has seen 8 million workers lose jobs since mid-March. The industry is on track to lose about $80 billion in revenue by the end of April with industry-wide losses pegged at $240 billion through the end of 2020. Those losses assume a gradual reopening of the economy in June.

For our most up-to-date coverage, visit the coronavirus homepage.

Learn lessons in leadership during a crisis from our panel of experts on Friday, May 1.

Contact Nancy Luna at [email protected] 

Follow her on Twitter: @fastfoodmaven


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