What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is the latest coronavirus that’s currently spreading across the globe. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that commonly circulate among humans, causing mild illnesses such as the common cold. COVID-19 is the latest strain that’s having a wide-ranging impact, readily spreading from person to person contact. Therefore, self-quarantine is currently the best preventative measures.  

The risk assessment is currently changing daily. Though many can catch this virus, there are some at a higher risk of more serious complications, including older adults and those who have serious chronic medical conditions like heart and lung disease, and diabetes. Though you may not fall under this high-risk population, COVID-19 is easy to catch and transmit to those who are. Therefore, precautionary measures are being mandated by many local and state governments, as well as recommended courses of action stemming from the federal level. These include limits to dining out, traveling, and attending large group gatherings.  

Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), current symptoms of COVID-19 include mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. If you are experiencing symptoms such as fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, or have been in close contact with a person confirmed to have COVID-19, or who has recently travelled from an area with an ongoing spread, the CDC recommends you stay home and contact your healthcare provider. 

In addition to quarantining, frequent and thorough handwashing is highly recommended to kill bacteria and slow the spread. You can view CDC-recommended handwashing practices in our Crash Course on Food Safety. 

What are the required cleaning procedures for COVID-19?

Regular and proper cleaning is essential to preventing the spread of the coronavirus whether someone has tested positive and been in your facility or not. We know that the virus spreads very quickly, so it is important to take extra precautions to keep those around us safe. 

The CDC outlines that if an individual has been in the facility and is suspected/confirmed to have the coronavirus, it is recommended to close off areas used by the infection person to minimize potential exposure to respiratory droplets. Then, open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area and if possible, wait 24 hours before cleaning the infected area. 

How to Clean/ Disinfect Properly: 

  • Surfaces 
    • First, clean dirty surfaces with soap and water or detergent before disinfecting 
    • To disinfect, use household bleach solutions with at least 70% alcohol  
    • Be sure to follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation, and ensure that the cleaning solution is not expired 
    • To prepare the bleach solution, mix 1/3 cup of bleach for one gallon of water, or 4 teaspoons of bleach per one quart of water 
  • Linens, clothing, etc. 
    • Do not shake the dirty laundry to prevent the virus from dispersing through the air 
    • Wash the laundry on the warmest setting appropriate according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Dry completely
  • Additional Precautions:  
    • Cleaning staff should wear disposable gloves and gowns during all cleaning processes 
    • Wash hands often for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer that contains 60%-95% alcohol  
    • Don’t touch your face, mouth, eyes, or nose 

What to Clean: 

All areas regularly touched by employees/guests should be regularly sanitized to prevent the spread of the virus. This includes: 

  • Restrooms (toilets, sinks, paper towel dispensers, etc) 
  • Door handles 
  • Tables  
  • Touch screen registers 
  • Drive-thru windows/ledges 
  • Anything else applicable  

Please note that local health departments may have additional requirements for your establishment. Be sure to check with these local offices to keep your kitchen up to date as protocols change. 

What products kill the Coronavirus?

The US Environmental Protection Agency has provided a list of products that kills the coronavirus. Please use this resource to keep your establishment clean. 

Did you know the COVID-19 coronavirus can live on stainless steel surfaces for up to three days? Using standard cleaners and polishers aren’t enough to effectively kill the virus. Learn step by step instructions on how to effectively disinfect your stainless steel work surfaces here.

Checklist of what restaurants need to do to protect against the Coronavirus 

  • Require both staff and customers to wear masks while inside the building. Some states are beginning to mandate the use of masks, so this is a good way to get ahead of the mandate.
  • Limit the number of people – many states have closed restaurants for in-person dining and play places  
  • Require employees to wash hands even more frequently than normal 
  • Increase the frequency of surface cleaning (see above instructions) 
  • Regularly monitor employee’s temperatures and ensure that if someone is not feeling well, they do not come into work 
  • Inform your customers on the extra safety precautions you are taking – via email list, social media, signs on the building, etc. 
  • If able, provide take out options to still serve your customers 
  • Prepare for additional numbers of employees to potentially be unable to work due to sickness 
  • Stay in touch with local health officials for additional guidance