Department of Health Guidelines for Re-Opening Restaurants and Bars

Department of Health Guidelines for Re-Opening Restaurants and Bars

As dine-in services for Ohio’s restaurants and bars re-open, here are some thoughts about the Ohio Department of Health guidelines for in-restaurant dining. For more information, please see or call your local health department.

HEALTHY COOKS AND WAITERS. Increased employee monitoring and training are mandated. Bar and restaurant managers have the responsibility to assure on a daily basis that employees are healthy when they report to work and are monitored throughout their shift if they get sick.

MASKED WAITERS. With very few exceptions, restaurant and bar workers must be masked.

MASKED DINERS. While masks for diners is recommended, except when eating, diner masks are not required.

CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN. Health Department regulations have historically required regular cleaning of food preparation and dining areas. With the coronavirus regulations, cleaning requirements are now on steroids. Included in the cleaning requirements is a daily deep clean of the entire establishment and, of course, more frequent hand washing and sanitizing by all staff.

SPACE. Besides masks and any smells from frequent cleaning, the major thing patrons will notice is increased spacing between tables. Unless physically separated by a barrier, restaurant tables are required to observe the six feet of social distancing. This will also affect the number of people who can gather around a bar while watching sporting events. For many small establishments, this is going to drastically affect the number of customers who can be seated during mealtime. This will, in turn, affect whether the bar or restaurant is profitable.

DEMISE OF SALAD AND BUFFET BARS. While restaurants can still have salad and buffet bars, customers cannot serve themselves. Customers must be served by restaurant staff. This will require ala carte ordering and serving which is not the reason we have enjoyed salad and buffet bars.

DON’T BRING YOUR DANCING SHOES. Dancing, arcade and other “congregant areas” remain closed.

THE BIG FAMILY PROBLEM. Your party is limited to 10 people. This is going to pose an issue for some families as they celebrate family occasions.

NO MORE SUGAR, SALT OR PEPPER SHAKERS OR KETCHUP BOTTLES. Individual servings of seasonings and condiments are now required.

A CHILLING EFFECT. This is an observation, not part of the regulations. I am not sure that customers will appreciate the sterile, masked atmosphere of the coronavirus tavern where you have to keep even greater tabs on the wandering toddler. This is known in the law as a chilling effect of regulation on business. We will need to wait and see how this works out, but for now, the cozy ambiance does not seem to be in the near future.

Thomas D. White

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