Criteria for reopening of food establishments: Minimizing the spread of COVID-19
Dear Food Establishment Operator,
Thank you for doing your part to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Food establishments that closed the kitchen and/or dining area should do the following when reopening:
Equipment and physical structure
- Make sure utilities are working (for example; electrical, plumbing, and heating, ventilation/air conditioning, and fire suppression)
- Flush water system and all plumbed food equipment for a minimum of 5 minutes
- Ice makers should be fully emptied, pipes drained, and the equipment washed, rinsed and sanitized
- Assess and discard food that is no longer safe (e.g., expired or spoiled foods)
- Check that all equipment is functioning properly and maintaining proper temperatures
- Wash, rinse, and sanitize all food contact surfaces
- Continue services you may have discontinued (for example, pest control services, trash and recycling services)
- Thoroughly clean and repair all physical facilities including floors, walls, and ceilings
Employee health and safety
Preventing the spread of COVID-19 via employee health monitoring is critical and food establishments must consider how the following will be implemented:
- Train workers on symptoms of COVID-19 illness and on required hand hygiene
- Screen employees for symptoms of COVID-19. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19: cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing. They may also have COVID-19 if they have at least two of the following: fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell.
- Ensure handwashing sinks are stocked with soap and paper towels and hand sanitizers are available
- Ensure 6 feet of distance between employees in both back and front of house
- Require cloth face coverings for employees. This is not a substitute for 6 foot social distancing. Under the Local Health Officer Directive, employees who prepare, carry out, and deliver food must wear cloth face coverings.
- Stagger work schedules as much as possible to reduce employee contact
- Develop employee illness policies and procedures
- While awaiting for the Governor's approval for customer seating, please plan and prepare in the following ways: Discontinue reusable menus if unable to thoroughly disinfect after each use -- post menu options or provide disposable menus
- Clean and disinfect touchpoints hourly, including all surfaces at each table turning
- Remove as many self-service condiment dispensers from tables or shared areas as possible
- Disinfect condiment containers after each dining group
- Ensure dining groups are seated at least 6 feet apart and remove or block extra seating
- Utilize contactless payment systems, automated ordering and mobile pay or provide handwashing or hand gel for employees handling payment
- Disinfect all touchpads after each use
- Maximize pick-up or delivery services
- Require customers to wear cloth face coverings while not seated at their table if dining or waiting for take-out in accordance with the Local Health Officer Directive.
- Download related posters.
COVID-19 information and resources
Stay up-to-date on the current COVID-19 situation in Washington, Governor Inslee's proclamations, symptoms, how it spreads, and how and when people should get tested. See our Frequently Asked Questions for more information.
- National Restaurant Association: Restaurant Reopening Guidance
- Association of Food and Drug Officials: Recommendations for Easing COVID-19 Restrictions for the Retail Food Industry
- Public Health-Seattle & King County Covid-19 resource pages
- Washington State Department of Health: