Coronavirus Safety Precautions for Restaurants
As the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases continues to climb, it’s important to know how you can best protect your restaurant customers and employees from potential infection. The virus is highly contagious — it is able to linger in the air for up to 3 hours after an infected person coughs; and its presence is seen on some surfaces for up to 17 days after initial contact. Knowing what to do if you think your restaurant property has been in contact with an infected person is crucial in curbing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Quick Facts About Coronavirus
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that spreads from person-to-person
- Severe cases can cause pneumonia and/or organ failure
- Main symptoms include fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath
- Its incubation period is about 2 weeks long, meaning it takes 2 weeks for symptoms to show
- Some infected people are asymptomatic, meaning they will not experience symptoms
- People infected by the virus are contagious during the incubation period
- The virus can last up to 3 hours in the air and is found after up to 17 days on surfaces
- There is not yet a vaccine for the virus
- It is far more dangerous than the seasonal flu
What to Do if Your Restaraunt is Infected by Coronavirus
If you find that your restaurant is infected with COVID-19 you are liable for providing a safe workplace and should implement the following steps :
- Develop a cleaning plan to implement. Before taking any drastic measures, make sure you have a responsible plan in place.
- Notify your employees.
- Close off the area.
- Open windows to allow outdoor air to flow through.
- Wait at least 24 hours before attempting to disinfect, or contact a biohazard cleaning company with expertise in disinfecting residential properties.
Employers Must Protect Employees from Recognized Hazards
General Duty Clause, 29 USC 654, section 5(a)(1) requires that employers protect their employees from recognized hazards.
“Each employer shall furnish to each of his employees’ employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.”
Additionally, the coronavirus is not listed as an exception to recording an occupational illness in 29 CFR 1904.5(b)(2). This means that if an employee contracts COVID-19 from another employee or through occupational exposure on a cleaning job, the illness is recordable on the OSHA log for that business. If it results in job restriction, days away or fatality, this is also required to be recorded.
While your employees can do the disinfection of the property themselves, there are regulatory requirements that must be met in order to be in compliance with OSHA and EPA regulations:
- OSHA’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) standards (29 CFR 1910 Subpart I), require training when using gloves, eye and face protection, and respiratory protection.
- When respirators are necessary to protect workers, employers must implement a comprehensive respiratory protection program in accordance with the OSHA’s Respiratory Protection standard (29 CFR 1910.134). This includes a written program, respirator fit tests and medical clearance to wear air-purifying respirators. NOTE: Facemasks that are worn to protect others from the spread of pathogens and not to protect the wearer do not have the fit test and medical clearance requirements.
- OSHA has issued a statement regarding COVID-19 Waste: “…use typical engineering and administrative controls, safe work practices, and PPE, such as puncture-resistant gloves and face and eye protection, to prevent worker exposure to the waste streams (or types of wastes), including any contaminants in the materials, they manage. Such measures can help protect workers from sharps and other items that can cause injuries or exposures to infectious materials.” Failure to properly manage the waste could lead to cross-contamination and further infection risks.
- The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that most household disinfectants are effective at reducing the risk of infection, but it is important to use only disinfectants that are registered with the EPA. Specifically, those that have emerging virus claims offer the best protection against SARS-CoV-2 pathogens.
- OSHA has recently issued a pamphlet entitled, Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19. This document is a valuable source of information for employers who want to address the COVID-19 situation. It will help identify at risk employees and provide risk mitigation strategies to employ.
For additional information, please see our Coronavirus Cleaning service page.
Safety Precautions For Restaurant Owners and Employees
As COVID-19 develops, make sure to stay up-to-date with the CDC’s advice on safety precautions. Currently, the best ways you and your restaurant employees can combat the spread of infection include:
- Washing your hands frequently.
The virus particle itself is held together by a lipid bilayer that acts as “glue” that holds each part of the virus together. Antibacterial soap and water are very effective at dissolving this bilayer, thus disassembling the virus and making it inactive.
- Disinfecting commonly touched surfaces often.
Use disinfectant wipes to clean door handles, tabletops, food prep surfaces, POS systems, and other frequently touched surfaces.
- Social distancing.
The virus’ main mode of transmission is from person-to-person contact and airborne droplets caused by coughing and sneezing. Ensure employees remain at least 6 feet away from other people when possible.
- Quarantining if you feel symptoms.
If employees feel symptoms of COVID-19, require them to stay at home for 2 weeks and to self-isolate. If symptoms get worse or if they start severe, they should call a doctor before going in to get tested. Showing up unannounced can put others at risk.
- Avoiding touching your face.
Although the virus is mainly transmitted through the air, the CDC has said the virus can live on surfaces. If you touch an infected surface and then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, the virus can enter your body.
- Covering coughs and sneezes.
Instruct employees on how to cough and sneeze into their elbow or a tissue and to wash their hands immediately.
- Instituting contactless ordering.
Using a third-party delivery service or requiring online payment ensures safe and contactless payment. Cash is not exchanging hands and people are not touching POS systems.
Call in a Professional Coronavirus Disinfection Service
Aftermath Services has been the nation’s #1 biohazard remediation and virucidal disinfection expert for over 25 years. We practice CDC and OSHA-compliant cleanup protocols and use state-of-the-art chemicals and personal protective equipment (PPE). Attempting to clean after a confirmed COVID-19 infection will only put you and those around you at risk by spreading the virus further. A serious threat requires serious safety measures — ones that professional virus remediation experts like Aftermath Services practice with every case. Call 877-769-6917 for immediate assistance.
Restaurant COVID-19 Resources
- Coronavirus information for restaurants
- Pivoting to take-out and delivery
- Available relief programs to help your restaurant during COVID-19