Restaurants in Stanislaus County can offer dine-in options starting today after the state approved the county moving into the next phase of re-opening the economy. However, the re-opening comes with a long list of modifications and requirements.
The new phase also allows for people to shop inside retail stores, rather than just curbside pick-ups and the re-opening of shopping malls and swap meets. Other office-based businesses could re-open, though telecommuting is still encouraged to help with social distancing.
“Our attestation documentation for a variance has been approved by the State and posted by the CA Dept of Public Health,” Kristin Olsen, Chairperson for Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors wrote on her Facebook page. “Dine-in restaurants and retail businesses, including shopping centers, throughout Stanislaus County can open for business today! Please be sure to follow state guidelines for safe re-openings! And please continue to practice social distancing! Thank you to everyone who worked so hard on this.”
Sally Lara of Alfonso’s Mexican Bar & Grill was overjoyed at the news but said she was caught off-guard by the suddenness of the news. She didn’t have enough employees nor enough food to open her dining room on Wednesday. She plans to open on Thursday.
“Whenever I heard this morning (Wednesday) I said, ‘Oh thank God,’ and then I said, ‘Oh, I don’t any people.’ We need to be open. It’s only been half (the business) we normally do.”
She heard the news from Renee Ledbetter and Lisa Mantarro Moore on Facebook. Ledbetter is a Ceres Chamber of Commerce official and Moore works for state Assemblyman Adam Gray.
“I think we’ll be okay,” Lara said of the half-capacity run. “Our restaurants have quite a few rooms.”
The California Department of Public Health announced Monday that more counties can move through the two phases of Stage 2 of the California Pandemic Resilience Roadmap and start re-opening additional sectors of their economy at their own pace, if the data warrants such a move. To qualify, counties must attest that hospitalization and test positivity rates are stable or declining; that they have a significant level of preparedness with testing, contact tracing, PPE and hospital surge; and that they have adequate plans related to county-wide containment.
One of the key components for restaurants offering dine-in options is to maintain social distancing. The CDPH recommends eateries prioritize outdoor seating and that the establishments can expand their outdoor seating, and alcohol offerings in those areas, if they comply with local laws and regulations.
The CDPH guidelines for dine-in restaurants states face coverings must be worn by any employee who will be within six feet of customers and is recommended for all employees.
Some other recommendations and guidelines from the CDPH to help with social distancing include:
- Encouraging reservations and asking guests to order ahead of time to limit the time spent in the restaurant;
- Asking customers to wait in their cars or away from the establishment while waiting to be seated. If possible, alert patrons through their mobile phones when their table is ready to avoid touching and use of buzzers;
- Implement measures to ensure physical distancing of at least six feet between workers and customers. This can include use of physical partitions or visual cues (e.g., floor markings or signs to indicate to where employees and/or guests should stand);
- Installing physical barriers or partitions at cash registers, bars, host stands and other areas where maintaining physical distance of six feet is difficult;
- Removing tables and chairs from dining areas so that six feet of physical distance can be maintained for customers and employees. If tables, chairs, booths, etc., cannot be moved, use visual cues to show that they are not available for use or install Plexiglas or other types of impermeable physical barriers to minimize exposure between customers;
- Providing temperature and/or symptom screenings for all workers at the beginning of their shift and any vendors, contractors, or other workers entering the establishment. Make sure the temperature/symptom screener avoids close contact with workers to the extent possible. Both screeners and employees should wear face coverings for the screening;
- If requiring self-screening at home, which is an appropriate alternative to providing it at the establishment, ensure that screening was performed prior to the worker leaving the home for their shift and follows CDC guidelines;
- • Servers, bussers, and other workers moving items used by customers (dirty cups, plates, napkins, etc.) or handling trash bags should use disposable gloves (and wash hands before putting them on and after removing them) and provide aprons and change frequently;
- • Dishwashers should use equipment to protect the eyes, nose, and mouth from contaminant splash using a combination of face coverings, protective glasses, and/or face shields. Dishwashers must be provided impermeable aprons and change frequently. Reusable protective equipment such as shields and glasses should be properly disinfected between uses;
- Perform thorough cleaning in high traffic areas, such as customer waiting areas and lobbies, break rooms, lunch areas and areas of ingress and egress including host stands, entry ways, stairways, stairwells, escalators, handrails, and elevator controls. Frequently disinfect commonly used surfaces including doors, door handles, crash bars, light switches, waiting area chairs, credit card terminals, ATM PIN pads, receipt trays, bus tubs, serving trays, water pitcher handles, phones, toilets, and handwashing facilities;
- Equip spaces such as dining rooms, bar areas, host stands, and kitchens with proper sanitation products, including hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes to all staff directly assisting customers;
- Restaurants should increase fresh air circulation by opening windows or doors, if possible to do so;
- Consider installing portable high-efficiency air cleaners, upgrading the building’s air filters to the highest efficiency possible, and making other modifications to increase the quantity of outside air and ventilation in all working areas;
- Provide disposable menus to guests and make menus available digitally so that customers can view on a personal electronic device, if possible. If disposable menus cannot be provided, properly disinfect menus before and after customer use;
- Discontinue pre-setting tables with napkins, cutlery, glassware, food ware, etc. These should be supplied individually to customers as needed. Do not leave card stands, flyers, napkin holders, or other items on tables;
- Suspend use of shared food items such as condiment bottles, salt and pepper shakers, etc. and provide these foods in single serve containers, if possible. Where this is not possible, shared items such as condiment bottles, shakers, etc., should be supplied as needed to customers and disinfected after each use;
- Pre-roll utensils in napkins prior to use by customers. Employees must wash hands before pre-rolling utensils in napkins. The pre-roll should then be stored in a clean container. After customers are seated, the pre-roll should be put on the table by an employee who recently washed their hands;
- Reusable customer items including utensils, food ware, breadbaskets, etc., must be properly washed, rinsed, and sanitized. Cleaned flatware, stemware, dishware, etc., must be properly stored away from customers and personnel until ready for use. Use disposable items if proper cleaning of reusable items is infeasible;
- Takeout containers must be filled by customers and available only upon request;
- Dirty linens used at dining tables such as tablecloths and napkins should be removed after each customer use and transported from dining areas in sealed bags. Employees should wear gloves when handling dirty linens;
- Thoroughly clean each customer dining location after every use. This will include disinfecting tables, chairs, booster seats, highchairs, booths, etc. and allowing adequate time for proper disinfection, following product instructions. Many EPA-approved disinfectants require minimal contact time (seconds to one minute) against human coronavirus;
- Discontinue tableside food preparation and presentation such as food item selection carts and conveyor belts, guacamole preparation, etc.;
- Do not leave out after-meal mints, candies, snacks or toothpicks for customers. Offer them with the check or provide only on request;
- Install hand sanitizer dispensers, touchless if possible, at guest and employee entrances and contact areas such as driveways, reception areas, in dining rooms, near elevator landings, etc.; and
- Discontinue use of shared entertainment items such as board games, pool tables, arcade games, vending machines, etc. Close game and entertainment areas where customers may share items such as bowling alleys, etc.
The re-opening does not yet apply to bars, breweries, tasting rooms and the like. Only those establishments that serve food are allowed to re-open and alcohol can only be sold in the same transaction as a meal, according to the CDPH guidelines.
Some of the guidelines for shopping centers and swap meets include:
• Develop and implement controlled foot traffic and crowd management strategies that enable at least six feet physical distancing between customers. This can include requiring foot traffic be one-directional and guiding customers with visual cues, physical props, and signage. Provide clearly designated entrances and separate exits, if feasible and appropriate for the space, to help maintain physical distancing and support crowd control. Wherever possible, doors should be left open if they do not open and close automatically. Work with tenants to create queue systems for customers outside individual stores while still maintaining physical distance, if necessary;
• Shopping center operators, retail tenants, and vendors should collaborate to develop store entry queuing systems that do not disrupt foot traffic or violate physical distancing requirements. Consider and encourage alternate entry to retail tenant facilities, including digital reservations for entry and pre-order guidelines; and
• Adjust maximum occupancy rules based on the size of indoor facilities and individual stores to limit the number of people in the shopping center at one time. Capacity limits should be low enough to ensure physical distancing but in no case more than 50 percent maximum occupancy of overall indoor shopping center capacity. Limit parking availability, where feasible, to further enforce the revised maximum occupancy limits.
For a complete list of all the requirements and a checklist, visit Good 2 Go Stanislaus at http://schsa.org/publichealth/pages/corona-virus/.