TUCSON, ARIZONA -- The Pima County Health Department has sent all restaurants and other facilities with on-premises dining 17 protective measures they should adopt for dine-in services during the pandemic.
The measures, vetted by the Restaurants and Bars Task Force of the County’s Back To Business initiative, give restaurants important operational guidance after Gov. Doug Ducey allowed restaurants to resume on-premises dining May 11.
The measures are intended to protect food service employees and the public as much as possible during the pandemic. Pima County Health Director Bob England, who oversees the County’s Consumer Health and Food Safety division, said restaurants are strongly recommended to adhere to all 17 protective measures immediately. The Board of Supervisors will be asked in the coming weeks to amend the County Health Code, which, if adopted, will make 15 of the measures required for dine-in service during the pandemic. Once the pandemic is declared over by the County’s Chief Medical Officer, the measures will become moot.
County Health inspectors will inspect all food service establishments in the county for compliance with the measures. Those that are adhering to all 15 of the minimum standards will be given a badge and poster they can post at the entrances to their establishments and use online and in advertising that notifies the public the restaurant is following the county’s protective measures. Two measures - having touchless payment systems and requiring all food handlers to have a national safety certification - are only recommended.
Over the past week, the County has conducted a public survey of the 17 measures to learn how important they were to the public for deciding whether to dine-in at a restaurant. Respondents could choose between Extremely Important, Very Important, Somewhat Important, Not So Important and Not At All Important. More than 8,100 people have responded so far and Extremely Important is dominating all 17 measures, followed by Very Important. The survey concludes Wednesday and the results will be posted on the Restaurants and Bars Task Force webpage.
“With the governor allowing on-premises dining again, it is important that the public and the restaurant industry know what the County’s Public Health Department believes are the minimum standards for such operations to reduce the chances of exposure to COVID-19; and that those standards apply countywide,” said Pima County Chief Medical Officer Dr. Francisco Garcia. “We understand the desire to get people back to work and lift some of these restrictions, but the pandemic is ongoing and the public needs to know the County and the restaurant industry are working cooperatively to keep people as safe as possible if they choose to dine on-premises. We are continuing to recommend that vulnerable individuals, including people over 65 and those who are medically compromised, continue to stay away from these venues, and that physical distancing continues everywhere in order to help prevent new infections.”
The protective measures set a minimum standard for operations. Restaurant operators who choose to can impose additional restrictions, including continuing to operate with take-out service only. The protective measures also apply to catering services.
These measures also will apply to bars when the Governor decides to lift operating restrictions on those establishments.
The Protective Measures are:
Minimum Employee, Vendor, Delivery Service and Patron health and wellness measures:
- Wellness/symptom checks, including temperature checks for all restaurant personnel, vendors, contractors, third party delivery service workers, etc. as they arrive on premises and before opening of a restaurant
- Cloth masks and gloves and frequent handwashing is required for all servers and restaurant personnel (except gloves not required for servers if hands are sanitized between servings)
- Any patron exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 is prohibited from entering the facility
Minimum restaurant operation measures:
- Physical and electronic signage posting at the restaurant entrance of public health advisories prohibiting individuals who are symptomatic from entering the premises
- Indoor occupancy limited to 50 percent or lower
- Service by take out, reservation or call ahead seating only, including text and/or telephone notification of patrons requesting restaurant in-person service, allowing restaurant patrons to physical distance until called for service
- Physical distancing of six feet minimum between tables
- Clearly marked six-foot spacing marks throughout the restaurant, along entrances, hallways, restrooms and any other location within a restaurant
- Parties no larger than 10 allowed per table and bar top seating is not allowed
- Menus must be in a format that does not promote potential virus transmission e.g. menu boards, single use menus
- Elimination of self-service stations including salad bars, buffets, soda refill stations, and table side food preparation
- Expansion of outdoor service areas to increase physical distancing standards
- Hand sanitizers available at entrances to the facility, restrooms and in employee work areas
- Sanitize customer areas after each sitting with EPA-registered disinfectant, including but not limited to: Tables, Tablecloths, Chairs/booth seats, Table-top condiments and condiment holders
- Post documentation cleaning logs online and at the entrance documenting cleaning of all public areas (inclusive of counter tops, door handles, waiting areas, etc.) at least every two to three hours
Additional measures to consider:
- Restaurant personnel should have a national certification in food safety and handling, as well as specific training in the prevention of COVID-19
- Implement touchless payment methods
Listed below are a series of guidelines and best practices on how to safely reopen your businesses from Pima County: