COVID-19 Guidelines for CA Dine-In Restaurants

On Behalf of Griswold LaSalle Cobb Dowd & Gin LLP

California’s statewide stay-at-home order has left many Californians wondering what the future holds in regard to how businesses will re-open and what the consumer experience will look like.

Governor Newsom issued a 4-stage “Resilience Roadmap” outlining the four stages of re-opening various public places. Whether a county is able to move to the next stage will depend on the number of factors including number of cases and spread rate in that particular county.

Dine-In restaurants are among the businesses that are included in “Phase 2” of this plan. However, there are new guidelines that must be followed by these establishments upon their re-opening. Such guidelines were released on May 12, 2020 by Governor Newsom and include creating and implementing a workplace specific plan, employee training, physical distancing guidelines, cleaning and disinfecting protocols, and control measures and screening protocols. The full document outlining these protocols, issued by Governor Newsom, can be accessed here.

Note: This article gives an overview of the guidance protocols released on May 12, 2020 as they apply to dine-in establishments that are to soon re-open.  However, the release of these guidelines does not automatically allow for dine-in services to resume statewide. Only those dine-in establishments located in counties that have met the criteria to move to Stage 2 will be permitted to re-open while implementing these guidelines.

Creating and Implementing a Workplace Specific Plan & Employee Training

As part of re-opening procedures, each workplace will need to perform a risk assessment specific to their individual work-site, establish a written COVID-19 prevention plan based on that assessment and designate a person at each site to implement the plan.

Additionally, in the event there is a Covid-19 related illness reported, there must be a thorough  investigation determine if any work related factors may have contributed to the risk of infection.

Employers are expected to communicate the specifics of this plan to their employees and regularly check for compliance. Employers must also provide training to their employees including basic information on COVID-19, importance of physical distancing, proper use of face-coverings, and the importance of staying home if they are showing any symptoms. Self-screening at home should also be encouraged based on CDC Guidelines.

Physical Distancing Guidelines

To encourage as much physical distancing as possible, guidelines provide various requirements and suggestions to allow for safe distancing in these establishments. The guidelines encourage; take-out/delivery options when possible, allowing dine-in customers to order ahead limiting time inside the business, asking customers to wait inside their cars for their table to be ready, and keeping doors propped open or automated if possible. Requirements include; implementing measures to ensure physical distancing (i.e. partitions or visual cues like floor markings or signs), installing physical barriers/partitions at cash registers, bars, host stands and other areas where maintaining 6 feet distance is difficult, reconfiguring dining area, offices, kitchens, breakrooms and workstations wherever possible to allow for distancing, adjusting maximum occupancy rules, and limiting number of people per table.

Bar areas of the establishments should remain closed to customers.

See full list of guidelines for more detailed list

Cleaning and Disinfecting Protocols,

Under these guidelines, cleaning and disinfecting protocols are stricter and more comprehensive. There must be often and thorough cleaning of high traffic areas (i.e. waiting areas, break rooms, stairways, handrails, and any other commonly used surfaces.) The guidelines encourage employers to use cleaning chemicals and other products that have been specifically approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to use against Covid-19. That list can be found here.

The guidelines emphasize ensuring that public spaces are equip with sanitation products, such as hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. Sanitary facilities should stay operational and fully stocked with soap, paper towels, and hand sanitizer.

Menus should be either disposable or provided digitally so each customer can access the menu on their smartphones without having to touch a communal menu. If neither of these options are feasible, then communal menus must be disinfected between each customer use.

Pre-setting tables with napkins, cutlery, glassware, etc. is a thing of the past. Instead, these items should be supplied to each customer on an individual basis. Cutlery should be pre-rolled in a napkin and stored in a clean container. Shared items such as, condiments, salt/pepper shakers, should now be served in individual single serve packaging, whenever possible.

Other shared items commonly found at such establishments, such as after-meal mints/candies, toothpicks, board games, arcade games, etc. are to be discontinued.

Control Measure and Screening Protocols.

Face masks are strongly recommended when employees are near others, whether they be other employees or customers. However, face masks are required for any employee who must be within 6 feet of customers (i.e. servers, bussers, etc.) Employers must provide employees with necessary protective equipment, including face masks and gloves where necessary.

Servers, bussers, and other workers that transport items used by customers, or handle trash bags, are expected to wear disposable gloves. Dishwashers should use protective eyewear and face coverings to prevent splashing of contaminated water.

All employees must be provided temperature/symptom screening at the beginning of their shift, including any vendors, contractors, or other workers entering the establishment. In the alternative, a workplace may require self-screening at home before the employee leaves for their shift if they can ensure that CDC Guidelines for self-screening are being strictly followed.

Dine- In Establishment owners should also review local county health orders and additional guidelines on how to best protect their workers and themselves; Cal/Osha Interim General Guidelines on Protecting Workers form COVID-19, U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA Best Practices for Restaurants, and CDC guidance for Business and Employers.

This a strange time we are living in. New procedures and guidelines will be constantly updating and evolving to keep people as safe as possible. If you have any questions or need assistance implementing these procedures for your business, please call for an appointment with one of our experienced business law attorneys.




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