Coronavirus Information and Resources

The restaurant industry is home to more than 15 million trained and skilled employees in restaurants across the country serving the public every day. The restaurant industry is open and the tables at America’s 1+ million restaurant and foodservice locations are always a great place to gather with friends and family. To ensure that restaurants have the latest information about coronavirus, we created this industry-specific guidance for owners and operators. The industry works day in and day out at food safety. You can find out more about ongoing ServSafe training and certification programs here.

Updated March 28, 2020

Questions

 

Can the coronavirus be spread through food, including refrigerated or frozen food?

According to the CDC, “Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food.”

North Carolina State University has created an informational FAQ concerning off-premises foodservice during the coronavirus. At this time, there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging. The FAQs are based on information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food & Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

What food safety measures are restaurants taking?

The foodservice industry follows strict local public health guidelines. To meet these guidelines, restaurants have safety protocols and best practices in place, including guidance from ServSafe. Owners and operators should contact their state and local health departments for the latest advisories/information about coronavirus in their community. The Association also has a fact sheet in English and Spanish with information specific to the industry.

 
On March 3, the EPA released a list of registered disinfectant products that have qualified under its emerging viral pathogen program for use again SARS-CoV-2. You can find the list here.
 

What other steps should we take to avoid infection?

The CDC suggests that people take the same steps they would to keep from getting the flu: get a flu vaccine, take everyday preventative actions – like washing your hands often – and see a doctor when you are sick.

Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have issued guidance for preparing a workplace for COVID-19 that include tips for preventing the spread of the virus and steps to reduce workers’ risk of exposure. And the CDC recently issued a strategy for implementing mitigation strategies for communities with local transmission.

 
 

The Association has developed several resources:

The COVID-19 Resources by State document includes information on what is required in every state, county, or city as it becomes available and as it relates to restaurants and coronavirus measures (such as closing dining rooms, requiring posters, and additional information). Compiled by our ServSafe Accreditation and Compliance team with input from our state restaurant association partners and other sources, this document is updated daily(Updated 3/27/20)

Our Restaurant Law Center, in coordination with our state and local partners, is tracking official orders closing or restricting foodservice establishments in response to COVID-19 and whether the federal or state government is offering unemployment insurance available to those affected by COVID-19.  A document with this information is being updated daily and can be found here. (Updated 3/28/20)
 
 
In addition to tracking federal law changes, our Restaurant Law Center, with the help of its Law Firm Partners, has contacted all state paid sick leave enforcement agencies seeking guidance concerning the interaction between COVID-19 and their paid sick and/or safe time (PSST) leave laws.  It has prepared a document providing a brief summary of relevant PSST standards from the federal government and by state that addresses the use of PSST for COVID-19 purposes.  The document is updated daily and found here. Please note that not all states have issued any guidance on this issue. (Updated 3/28/20)
 
 
Yes. Still, more and more states and localities are restraining travel, particularly during certain hours of the day, while restaurant workers need to arrive earlier than the time restrictions to make bread, brew coffee, etc., and stay pass curfew to clean, disinfect, and close the premises. Meanwhile, some restaurant workers are running into issues with law enforcement restricting workers movement to and from work. Thus, the Restaurant Law Center drafted a letter specifically for restaurant brands that an employer can give to an essential employee stating that the holder is an “Essential Critical Infrastructure Worker” under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security guidelines. Thus, the worker should be allowed to continue to or from his place of employment. The letter can be found here. - This is a direct download.
 
 
The U.S. Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the U.S. Department of Labor (Labor) have announced that businesses with fewer than 500 employees can begin taking advantage of two new refundable payroll tax credits, designed to immediately and fully reimburse them, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave to their employees. You can find more information about the program here.
 
 
 
On March 12, the SBA announced that it will work with state governments to provide targeted, low-interest disaster recovery loans to small businesses severely impacted by the outbreak. You can find out more about these loans and how to access them here.
 

What is the impact to the supply chain?

It is still unknown if or how the coronavirus will impact the foodservice supply chain. Many organizations and researchers are monitoring developments.

 

Webinars

Coronavirus: Industry Readiness and Response - Hosted by the National Restaurant Association and ServSafe

Coronavirus Resources: Labor and Employment Law Challenges and Obligations Facing Employers – Hosted by the National Restaurant Association Restaurant Law Center

Curbside for Full-Service Restaurants - Hosted by the Texas Restaurant Association

Preparing for the Coronavirus: Steps for Restaurant Readiness - Hosted by ServSafe