The National Restaurant Association and its team of ServSafe food safety experts issued an updated version of the COVID-19 Operating Guidance to help the restaurant industry continue to operate safely and efficiently during the pandemic.

The guidance, created in partnership with safety experts from government organizations, academia, the public health sector, and corporations, offers operators the most up-to-date guidelines on providing safe dining—on and off premises.

The team, led by the Association’s Larry Lynch, senior vice president, Science and Industry, has incorporated new information, including the latest ventilation best practices from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The guidance document complements the Association’s regularly updated tracker, which keeps operators apprised of state-by-state restaurant operating and dining regulations. Operators must follow practices recommended and/or required by their state and local health officials.

The updated COVID-19 Operating Guidance is a robust resource for practical tips and science-based best practices to help restaurants stay in compliance with state and local directives.

It follows U.S. Food and Drug Administration Food Code guidelines, and aggregates the latest information on food safety, cleaning and sanitizing, employee health monitoring and personal hygiene, workplace layout for social distancing, and optimizing indoor air quality sourced from:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA)
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)

Key updates include:

  • New protocols for maintenance of HVAC and air-circulation systems.
  • Information on portable air cleaners—also known as air purifiers—that could be helpful when operations can’t ventilate with outdoor air without compromising indoor comfort, or when air pollution is high.
  • The proper PPE to wear when changing air filters
  • Food safety best practices for (employee-served) cafeteria-style foodservice.
  • Additional information on addressing employee personal hygiene and health, such as what to do in the event an employee is exposed to COVID-19 or they test positive.

Download a copy of the new guidance document here.


This guidance is an essential element to the ServSafe Dining Commitment, the Association’s voluntary program through which restaurateurs can promote their commitment to safe food and service practices, including those that mitigate the risk of coronavirus transmission.