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Wine Country guidelines for reopening restaurants after coronavirus lockdown

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The following guidelines for reopening dine-in service in Napa County are among sector-by-sector best practices developed for county public officials by a coalition of business leaders led by local chambers of commerce.

Napa County got the state OK to reopen dine-in service May 19. Lake, Mendocino and Solano counties got their approval to do so May 20.

General facility

• Restaurants should post signage at the entrance clearly stating that social distancing is in practice, safety is a priority and advising anyone who is unwell not to enter the premises.

• Hand sanitizer should be provided, and usage required at the entrance. Sanitizer should be provided and easily accessible at multiple other locations specific to each restaurant’s design.

• Restaurants should analyze ingress and egress from waiting areas, restrooms, and dining rooms to determine choke points and adopt new strategies, if necessary, to achieve social distancing.

• Dining room capacity and table layout should be based on current social distancing requirements at County mandated occupancy levels. Clear plexiglass barriers should be used to prevent face-to- face contact where necessary and appropriate in both the front and back of the house. Outdoor seating, if available should be utilized with similar distancing.

• All shared surfaces and any high touch areas should be sanitized at scheduled 30-minute intervals.

• Buffet, Salad Bar, and other self-serve options are not permitted at this time. Individually packaged “grab and go” items are still allowed.

• If possible, restaurants should update their HVAC systems by using higher MERV rated air filters and by increasing the amount of outside air from 15% to 30%. Keeping doors and windows open can also increase the amount of outside air.

Welcoming guests

To thrive we will have to ensure that both our staff and our guests feel safe and secure. It is more important than ever that grooming, personal hygiene, facility maintenance and good housekeeping are impeccable.

• Restaurants should prioritize reservations or call ahead seating and set the maximum party size at 6 guests per table. “Text when ready” or similar notification methods should be used to eliminate crowded waiting areas.

• Restaurants should require guests to provide contact information, including the names of everyone in their party so that the information can be made available, if necessary, for the County to perform contact and tracing follow up. This information should not be shared with anyone else and can be deleted after 21 days. Host staff should be trained to explain why this is necessary.

• Restaurants should check every guest’s temperature reading before seating and refuse to seat anyone with a reading over 100 degrees.

• Guests should be required to wear masks while in restaurants except while seated and consuming food and beverages. Restaurants should provide guests with a sanitary location to place their masks while eating and drinking. (Bag, box, etc)

• No physical contact. No handshakes, hugs, high fives, or fist bumps, etc.

Employee health and personal hygiene

• A manager should confirm employee temperature readings before beginning work. Any employees with a temperature reading of 100 degrees or higher, or that exhibits any other COVID-19 related symptoms (cough, sore throat, vomiting, or diarrhea) should be sent home until the symptoms clear. Employees should be without fever for 24 hours (after finishing fever- reducing medicines) before returning to work.

• Employees should notify their supervisor if they begin to feel sick.

• Employees should maintain robust personal hygiene protocols as outlined by the California Retail Food Code, and should wash their hands upon arrival at work and frequently throughout the day, after coughing or sneezing, or after coming into contact with a surface that could be contaminated.

• To the extent practical, all employees should wear face masks when working.

• Staff meals, if provided, should be served in a manner that allows social distancing.

• Employees should wipe down their personal work surfaces, such as desks, keyboards and telephones with disinfectant at the start and end of their workday. If these workspaces are shared, disinfecting should be done on a regular basis throughout the day.

• Restaurant employees should receive testing for COVID to ensure they are safe at a regular interval to be determined by the County Health Officer.

Dining room service

• Restaurants should provide and mandate the use of masks and gloves for service staff. Gloves should be changed at regular intervals and as necessary after contact with potentially contaminated surfaces.

• Restaurants should make sanitizer or wipes and masks available for guests.

• Restaurants should provide single-use menus or deploy other menu formats that can be easily sanitized between each use.

• As much as practical, restaurants should minimize close contact when serving and clearing tables.

• When pouring beverages, the neck of the bottle should not touch the guest’s glass. Drip stop wine pourers should be discouraged.

• Lemon, lime, and other bar garnishes should be kept covered at all times.

• Tables should not be preset with utensils and stemware or condiments. Only single-use condiments should be used. Salt and pepper should only be on request.

• Tables and chairs should be sanitized every time before re-seating tables.

• Contactless payment technology should be encouraged. As much as practical, cash should be avoided for the time being. Sanitizer should be available for regular use at cash registers.

Back of the house: Kitchen operations

• Staff in the back of the house should wear masks and/or face shields when working together and observe social distancing as much as practical.

• Clear rigid plastic partitions should be considered where appropriate to enhance social distancing effectiveness in tight quarters.

• Glove use should be required when working with ready to eat foods, for now.

• Contact with delivery personnel should be kept to a minimum. Where practical, deliveries should be checked-in outside the premises and brought inside by restaurant personnel. If drivers need to come inside the premises, social distancing and PPE should be required.

• Commercial high-temperature ware washing equipment should be used to sanitize all dishes, utensils, and kitchen small wares. Proper rinse temperature should be monitored and logged consistently.

Source: Napa County Public Health Department

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