Coronavirus Information and Resources

CARES Act Update

On Friday, March 27, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the single largest economic relief package in U.S. history at $2.2 trillion. Included: $300 billion in direct payments to individuals earning less than $99,000 annually, up to $3,400 per family of four; $350 billion in loans for small businesses with loan forgiveness provisions; and $250 billion in enhanced unemployment insurance. More than 300,000 individuals joined in the National Restaurant Association's grassroots campaign to ensure the restaurant industry, acknowledged as the most hard-hit by the coronavirus crisis, was heard as the legislation was shaped.

Visit our CARES Act overview page for more information. This page will be updated frequently as more information becomes available on how the CARES act impacts and benefits restaurants.


Restaurants and employees are feeling the catastrophic effect of the COVID-19 pandemic across the country.  Since March 1, the industry has lost more than 3 million jobs and $25 billion in sales, and roughly 50% of restaurant operators anticipate having to lay off more people in April. 

The passage of the CARES Act was a necessary first step towards helping the industry through this crisis, but we know more must be done.  Please visit this page regularly for updated information on the implementation of the CARES Act and for guidance on how to take advantage of the funding available to restaurants. To ensure that restaurants have the latest information about coronavirus, we created this industry-specific guidance for owners and operators. For more information about our ongoing commitment to safe food handling and training and certification opportunities, please visit the ServSafe website.

Updated March 31, 2020



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 3/31/20)

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 3/31/20)
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.



Business Resources & Guidelines 

Business Continuity Planning Basics: 10 Steps to Take Now

COVID-19 Resources by State — ServSafe Accreditation & Compliance team and State Restaurant Associations (Updated 3/31/20)

Paid Sick & Safe Time Laws and COVID-19 — The Restaurant Law Center and law firm partners (Updated 3/28/20)

Official Orders Closing or Restricting Foodservice Establishments in Response to COVID-19 — The Restaurant Law Center and law firm partners (Updated 3/31/20)

Resource Directory - Offerings and resources from the Association and across the industry.

Employee Resources 


U.S. Treasury Dept. and SBA Resources

Assistance for Small Businesses
The Paycheck Protection Program prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses.

For a top-line overview of the program CLICK HERE
If you’re a lender, more information can be found HERE
If you’re a borrower, more information can be found HERE
The application for borrowers can be found HERE

Payroll Suport
The CARES Act assists eligible businesses looking for payroll support to keep Americans working. For more information, CLICK HERE.

Assistance for American Workers and Families
In the weeks immediately after the passage of the CARES Act, Americans will see fast and direct relief in the form of Economic Impact Payments. For more information, CLICK HERE.

Visit the Treasury Department's CARES Act page for additional information.



An Overview of the CARES Act with the Public Affairs Team - Hosted by the National Restaurant Association

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