Reopening of Restaurants During COVID-19

Tired of carry out? Cold food? Eating at home…again? Everyone wants our restaurants to reopen so that they can support the local economy by enjoying a meal outside the home. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this must be accomplished carefully to minimize the health risks to restaurant workers and customers.

The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) recently published guidance on reopening restaurants safely amid the COVID-19 outbreak. The AIHA is a nonprofit organization serving professionals dedicated to the well-being of workers and members of the community. In this document, AIHA suggests changes in the following areas:

Physical Distancing

  • Use reservations-only policy and space tables so customers are at least 6 feet apart. (Reservations will also be useful if contact tracing is needed.)
  • Limiting or eliminating bar service
  • Using non-traditional ordering and payment processing to minimize contact time between servers and customers


  • Encourage outdoor dining, open doors and window to maximize fresh air
  • Consider using portable HEPA filtration units
  • Take steps to minimize air blowing from one person directly at another individual

Enhanced Cleaning

  • Select disinfectants from EPA’s list of products and use disposable products
  • Consider establishing a single staff position whose responsibility it is to disinfect
  • Clean HVAC intakes daily

Food Preparation and Contact Surfaces

  • Place adhesive floor mats at entrances and at the entrances of food preparation areas
  • Cover any exposed clean silverware, dishes, glasses, pots, and pans
  • Remove all condiments from the table and consider providing pre-packaged condiments or include condiments as part of the cleaning routine.

Personal Hygiene

  • Provide handwashing or hand sanitizer at the front of the establishment and at each table
  • Staff should wash hands between serving and clearing dishes or dedicate a person for this task

Employee Wellness

  • Conduct employee temperature screening and wellness checks before each shift
  • Require face coverings for all staff


  • Provide instruction and training to employees on how to:
    • Handle their work clothing properly at home if laundry service is not provided
    • Properly put on and remove gloves
    • Clean and disinfect tables according to product specifications


  • Communicate to the diners what the restaurant is doing to mitigate the spread of COVID-19
  • Communicate that the restaurant has the right to refuse service to anyone exhibiting symptoms or not following guidelines
  • Encourage customers to wear face masks when entering, leaving, and moving about the restaurant

As we begin to reopen businesses, it is important to follow the recommend guidelines to help keep the public safe. If your business needs help ensuring best practices, Circle Safety and Health Consultants is here. For more information about our services and training, please contact Pauline at 804-355-7255.

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