What Will Restaurants Look Like After Coronavirus?

A lot has changed since diners were last able to gather in crowded restaurants. And while some places continue to keep their residents indoors under strict stay-at-home orders to limit the spread of coronavirus, others are easing their shelter-in-place guidelines. But the states that have lifted restrictions are still implementing safety standards in order to prevent another outbreak. Here are some of the ways restaurants will look a bit different as they open up in the coming weeks.

First, owners should check their state’s guidelines

If a restaurant owner is planning to re-open their business, they should first check with their state authorities to ensure that reopening is consistent with local guidelines, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Check out a list of when each state could consider easing coronavirus restrictions.

Employers need to protect employees who are at high risk

Restaurant owners should be prepared to protect any employees who are considered high risk. This could include being flexible with working hours or time off and making sure social distancing efforts are made not just for customers, but for workers too. Some food brands, like Starbucks, have already taken measures to ensure their employees are protected.

Hand washing is a must

As always, employees must avidly wash their hands in hot, soapy water. Employees should be trained to frequently wash their hands or to use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content when they can't get to a sink. But, make sure the hand-cleaning products you use haven't expired yet.

Employees should be wearing a cloth face covering

The Food and Drug Administration recommends that employees wear a face mask to reduce the risk of the virus spreading amongst one another. If wearing a face mask for some employees isn't possible, the National Restaurant Association recommends staggering employees so that they're not directly next to one another.

Ventilation and disinfecting should be improved

Restaurants planning to reopen should make sure disinfection and ventilation procedures have been intensified, according to the CDC. Follow a complete guide on how to properly clean and disinfect.

Pick-ups, drive-thrus and deliveries are encouraged

Although some restaurants are starting to open back up, the CDC recommends that pick-ups, drive-thrus and deliveries continue as social distancing restrictions loosen. Many chains and services are offering free delivery during the pandemic.

Party sizes should be limited

While many restaurant-goers miss the dine-in experience, the CDC recommends that party sizes and overall occupancy are limited when restaurants choose to reopen.

Tables should be spaced out by 6 feet

While some notable restaurants have been forced to close permanently during the coronavirus pandemic, others are consideing ways to reopen while abiding by social distancing rules. The National Restaurant Association recommends that restaurant owners update floor plans in dining areas to ensure that tables are at least 6 feet apart.

Sneeze guards should be in place

If a restaurant offers salad bars or buffets, sneeze guards should be installed prior to reopening, according to the National Restaurant Association. In addition to sneeze guards, barriers should be placed in open areas. If you're still nervous about dining-out, consider checking out how successful your state has been at social distancing first.

Sanitize between seatings

In between seatings, restaurant employees should clean and sanitize everything from condiments to check presenters. Anything in a common area should be cleaned and disinfected, especially with CDC-approved cleaning products to use during the coronavirus.

Call-ahead business models may help

The restaurant industry has been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and now restaurants are considering a call-ahead or reservations-only business model so that they can reopen, according to the Restaurant News Association.

Contactless payments when possible

One way to replace human interaction with technology is by using contactless payments when possible. Restaurants should also consider mobile ordering and texts on arrival for seating. And if you've been wondering how much to tip essential workers during the pandemic, here is a helpful guide.

Employee temperature checks are not mandatory

While the CDC has not implemented mandatory temperature checks for employees, state and local guidelines during the coronavirus vary. Any business owner who chooses to take their employees' temperature should check with health officials to create policies that correspond with proper procedures.

Employees should be trained to not touch their face

There are many hidden sources of bacteria, which is why it's important for employees to avidly wash and sanitize their hands. The Restaurant News association says that employees should be explicitly told to avoid touching their face.

Limited contact between wait staff and guests

Contact between waitstaff and guests should be limited. The National Restaurant Association recommends installing plexiglass and replacing person-to-person interactions with technology where it's possible to do so. But if you're still nervous about dining out even with the new restrictions, check out these tips for making dinner at home feel like a restaurant experience.

No one with COVID-19 symptoms should enter

Just as you cannot donate blood if you've been exposed to the virus, you're also prohibited from entering a restaurant, according to the National News Association. An employee who is symptomatic should be told to self-isolate for seven days and be symptom-free for three days without medication before returning.

Sanitize menus

The National Restaurant Association recommends that menus are sanitized between use. If a restaurant offers paper menus, they should be thrown out after each customer uses them. For some helpful guidelines on how often you should wash commonly touched items, click here.

Utensils should be changed and washed frequently

Just like deep-cleaning your home, restaurants should also take diligent disinfecting and cleaning measures during the pandemic. Restaurants that are planning to reopen should change, wash and sanitize utensils frequently, the National Restaurant Association says.

Congregating in waiting areas is not permitted

Restaurants planning to reopen should implement a process for guests waiting to be seated. Congregating in waiting or bar areas shouldn't be permitted. Suggested alternatives include floor markings, waiting in cars and outdoor social distancing. And if someone does come too close to you while dining out, these are some helpful etiquette tips to use during the age of the coronavirus.

Employees should wear gloves when preparing food