With confirmed cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States, many restaurants and kitchens are looking for guidelines and tips from professionals. To help those in the foodservice and restaurant industry with business operation as well as monitoring, preventing and responding to a potential spread of the disease, we’ve compiled a list of reliable COVID-19 resources that restaurant owners and commercial kitchen operators can find online.
Updated on 3/17/20: Please note that some states have restricted bars and restaurants to only delivery and takeout for the foreseeable future. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) also recommends restricting gatherings of 10 or more people.
National Restaurant Association
The National Restaurant Association (NRA) created multiple resources to help during these unprecedented times. Its coronavirus information and resources page that offers everything from summaries of the disease to guidelines on proper handwashing and sanitizing. The page even includes links to general information from the WHO, CDC, Occupational Safety and Health Administration and John Hopkins CSSE. The association’s ServSafe Food Safety Training program released a helpful fact sheet titled Coronavirus: What Can You Do? The sheet lists symptoms, prevention tips and ways to monitor employees and customers who could be sick. In regards to prevention, ServSafe advises that restaurant and facility staffs clean and sanitize objects and surfaces and provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer available in the front and back of house. It also recommends that staff wash their hands for at least 20 seconds in soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60-95% alcohol.
The NRA set up a Restaurant Employee Relief Fund to help restaurant industry employees who had wages decreased or lost employment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Users can apply for assistance or make donations. According the relief fund page, “grants will be awarded as soon as possible to those individuals who meet the prescribed eligibility criteria, as reviewed and verified by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF).”
Also, as restaurants begin to slowly open their dining rooms back up, the association has a complete reopening guide owners and operators can download. The 10-page PDF offers ways to clean and sanitize spaces, redesign dining spaces for social distancing and practice better hygiene in the workplace.
The Centers for Disease Control has a wide variety of information available on its website. Its devoted coronavirus page includes facts on symptoms, testing, risk assessment and prevention as well as frequent updates on COVID-19 cases around the globe and U.S. The site updates frequently with the latest news and information and includes a fact sheet with helpful prevention tips for schools, homes, workplaces and commercial facilities.
It also released a decision tree for bars and restaurants looking to reopen dining room in areas that are loosening restrictions. The decision tree takes you through different questions to help see if your establishment has the right social-distancing methods and safety measures to reopen. To download the guide, please click here here.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) always provides workers and employees helpful resources on different safety standards and regulations. It’s now offering interim guidance on preventing exposure to and infection of the coronavirus in workplace settings. The OSHA COVID-19 page gives staff members a convenient place to look up key details about coronavirus as well as best practices. One notable feature beneficial to foodservice workers is the section that offers specific guidance for healthcare facilities or airports. These locations not only have commercial kitchens, but they also are at risk for higher exposure to virus.
Like the CDC, the World Health Organization (WHO) gives daily updates on coronavirus and also have a dedicated page. It not only offers general information and statistics, but it also has online training videos and e-learning materials to help with prevention and monitoring. Another helpful tool from the WHO is the “Myth Busters” page, which advises the public on widely circulated rumors and details that aren’t accurate. For instance, the page dispels myths that the virus can be killed by hand dryers and ultraviolet disinfection lamps.
In addition to innovative technology and services, Ecolab is a provider of cleaning and sanitizing solutions for many businesses around the globe. The company launched a complete resource page with tips on how to combat COVID-19 in hospitals, restaurants, hospitality, long-term care facilities, food and beverage plants and textile plants. It also features other helpful content, including a detailed Q&A and webinar from Ecolab experts.
The IRS is helping businesses who could be affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Its resource page has updated information regarding deadline extensions, guidance for deferring tax payments and details on high deductible health plans and expenses.
Small Business Administration
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is assisting small businesses, including restaurants navigate through this challenging time. One of the biggest resources is the Paycheck Protection Program loan. This is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. The administration will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks. The money from the loan must be used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest or utilities.
Other helpful SBA programs for restaurants include:
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce dedicated a portion of its website to helping small businesses during the pandemic. The page not only includes the latest news, government resources and relief loans, but it also has a wide variety of articles with tips on everything from operational strategies to helping employees cope with and navigate through the current climate.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture created a section on its site with different resources, response plans and FAQs, including questions specifically for foodservice. The department’s Food and Nutrition Service created its own disaster assistance response page where users can find information on state-by-state child nutrition programs, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) emergency allotments and waivers for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program.
The National Association of College & University Food Service (NACUFS) published tips for colleges and universities. The dedicated page has response plans for meal program refunds, residence halls and dining halls. There also are external links WHO and CDC resources, including dedicated information for colleges and universities.
Additional Foodservice Resource Pages
Below are additional COVID-19 resources from other relevant sites and publications that cover or are associated with the foodservice industry:
- American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA)
- American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE)
- Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA)
- Association for Healthcare Foodservice (AHF)
- Building Operating Management & Facility Maintenance Decisions
- Food Management
- Foodservice Equipment Reports
- Foodservice Equipment Supplies
- Foodservice Updates
- Hotel Management
- IBISWorld Industry Fact Sheet
- International Facilities Management Association (IFMA)
- Nation’s Restaurant News
- NC Restaurant and Lodging Association (NCRLA)
- QSR Magazine
- Restaurant Hospitality Resources
- Restaurant Hospitality – Delivery & Takeout Best Practices
- Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) United
- Seated Restaurant Support Hotline
- School Nutrition Association
- Stronger Service Together Community (CFESA & techtown)
- techtown Resources for Foodservice Technicians
- U.S. Travel Association