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Infection Control Recommendations for Food Premises when Reopening

In review of the provincial guidelines, the HNHU further encourages the following general recommendations be applied by the public and food premise operators to prevent or mitigate COVID-19 infection.  Please note, this is not an exhaustive list of requirements as each task requires its own assessment and plan to address infection control against communicable diseases and other hazards.

Screen patrons and staff for illness

  • Post signage (i.e. passive screening) at public and staff entrances advising ill not to enter business
  • Ensure all staff and contractors are actively screened daily
  • If you work in a high risk setting (e.g. Long-term care homes, congregate settings), visitors should be actively screened
  • Where reservations or other appointments are made, advise or screen callers indicating to not attend premise if ill.
Continue to practice and ensure physical and social distancing

  • Place signage and markers to notify patrons of physical distancing requirements.
  • Party size limits must meet provincial requirements.
  • Arrange furniture and other items used by patrons and staff more than 2 metres apart.
  • Assign staff to ensure customers are maintaining safe physical distances in congested areas like entrances/exits and check-outs.
  • Set and post-occupancy limits for indoor areas accessible to the public to ensure patrons can stay 2 metres apart. For example, you could set the occupancy limit by calculating the total useable floor space for patrons (e.g. subtract areas taken up by counters, seating, etc) and divide by 36 square feet. Small areas such as elevators should be considered.  Smaller public areas within the premise (e.g. washrooms) should also have occupancy limits that are posted.
  • Continue to limit or reduce workspace occupancy through work from home, work schedules, and break schedule adjustments where possible.
  • Cohort staff (i.e. schedule shifts so only same group of staff work together) where possible to limit the impact of potential workplace outbreak on continuity of operations.
  • Avoid carpooling. Where sharing vehicles is required, passengers should sit in back seats (if available).  Commuters should wear masks and open windows if possible.
Provide easy access to handwashing or hand sanitizer (alcohol based hand rub)

  • Position handwashing or hand sanitizer stations in public (e.g. placed on every table, if supplies allow) and staff areas
  • Post signage to encourage proper handwashing in washrooms and food handling areas.
  • Have all employees and visitors wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water before entering the workplace and after contact with surfaces others have touched.
  • Ensure handwash stations are adequately supplied at all times.
Enhance environmental cleaning

  • Develop a schedule for increased, routine cleaning and disinfection as well as daily ‘complete’ cleaning before or after a work shift.
  • Ensure staff are trained in proper use of cleaning and disinfection products (e.g. contact times, if PPE needs to be worn)
  • Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces such as door knobs/handles, phones, railings, faucets, toilets, and other shared items frequently.  Clean and disinfect shared objects (e.g., payment terminals, tables, countertops/bars, receipt trays, condiment holders) between each use.  Surfaces should be immediately cleaned following spills or where someone displays respiratory symptoms (e.g. cough or sneeze) in the area.  Discard items that cannot be properly cleaned or disinfected (e.g. food items) after becoming contaminated.
  • Ensure washrooms are cleaned at least twice a day and when visibly soiled.
  • Change tables should be cleaned and disinfected after every use.  Signage should be posted providing instructions for customers as to how to do so where cleaning and disinfection products (e.g. wipes) are provided to patrons.  Otherwise instructions should include customers notifying staff immediately after use.
  • Disinfectants used in public settings should have a DIN and virucidal claim.
  • Wash, rinse, disinfect, and then sanitize food contact surfaces, food preparation surfaces, and food preparation equipment.
  • Ensure that cleaning or disinfecting product residues are not left on table surfaces. Residues could cause allergic reactions or cause someone to ingest the chemicals.
  • Ensure safe and correct use and storage of disinfectants to avoid food contamination and harm to employees and other individuals. This includes storing products securely away from children.
  • Use gloves when removing garbage bags or handling and disposing of trash. Wash hands after removing gloves.
Shared Items

  • Discourage sharing of items that are difficult to clean, sanitize, or disinfect.
  • Limit any sharing of food, tools, equipment, or supplies by staff members.
  • Ensure adequate supplies to minimize sharing of high-touch materials (e.g., serving spoons) to the extent possible; otherwise, limit use of supplies and equipment by one group of workers at a time and clean and disinfect between use.
  • Avoid using or sharing items that are reusable, such as menus, condiments, and any other food containers. Instead, use disposable or digital menus, single serving condiments, and no-touch trashcans and doors.
  • Tables should not be set with utensils, dishes and other food service items until the customers are present.
  • Use touchless payment options as much as possible, if available. Ask customers and employees to exchange cash or card payments by placing on a receipt tray or on the counter rather than by hand to avoid direct hand to hand contact. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as pens, counters, or hard surfaces between uses and encourage patrons to use their own pens.
  • Use disposable food service items (e.g., utensils, dishes, napkins, tablecloths). If disposable items are not feasible or desirable, ensure that all non-disposable food service items are handled with gloves and washed with dish soap and hot water, or in a dishwasher. Employees should wash their hands after removing their gloves or after handling used food service items.
Provide personal protective equipment and physical barriers where applicable

  • Where persons cannot maintain physical distancing, install barriers (e.g. plexiglass in kitchens and at cash registers, host stands, or food pickup areas) or provide appropriate PPE (e.g. masks for staff who may need to be within 2 metres of customers or other staff members).
  • Appropriate PPE should be determined based on the task being completed
  • Ensure staff are trained as to how to don (i.e. put on) and doff (i.e. take off) PPE
Provide alternative service delivery where possible

  • Avoid offering any self-serve food or drink options, such as buffets, salad bars, and drink stations.  Similarly, use of food and beverage utensils and containers brought in by customers should be avoided.
  • Prioritize outdoor seating as much as possible
  • Stagger and limit dining times to minimize the number of customers in the premise.
  • Discourage crowded waiting areas by using phone app, text technology, or signs to alert patrons when their table is ready. Avoid using “buzzers” or other shared objects.
  • Consider options for dine-in customers to order ahead of time to limit the amount of time spent in the establishment.
  • Avoid cash transactions.  Debit or credit using ‘tap’ option is preferred.
  • Provide services on-line or other methods (e.g. pick up) limiting interactions amongst people
  • Consider extending business hours if it reduces surges in patrons attending workplace.
  • Hold meetings so that everyone is 2 metres or more apart, online or via teleconference.
  • Offer options for vulnerable employees at higher risk for severe illness (including older adults and people of all ages with certain underlying medical conditions) that limits their exposure risk (e.g., modified job responsibilities such as managing inventory rather than working as a cashier, or managing administrative needs through telework).
Get your water system ready after a prolonged facility shutdown

  • For those on a municipal or communal water supply, flush your water lines by opening all faucets for 10-15 minutes and the water runs clear.
  • For those on a private water supply, ensure equipment is operating properly (e.g. filters, treatment units), flush and consider shock chlorinating system. Only commence use of water system once satisfactory drinking water samples are obtained.  For Small Drinking Water System Operators, follow regulatory requirements (O. Reg. 319/08) 
Increase ventilation

  • Where possible, increase the ventilation system’s air intake or open doors and windows. Avoid central recirculation where possible.
  • Similarly, open windows when in vehicles with others where possible.
Keep staff up-to-date on the evolving situation and applicable health and safety issues

  • Ensure staff know how to report an illness in a timely manner and take action to protect themselves and others when at work
  • Review signs, symptoms and methods of transmission of COVID-19
  • Ensure staff know when and how to self-isolate should it be required (see Managing Sick Staff fact sheet).
  • Consider having a point person for each shift that can address COVID-19 concerns
  • As with all workplaces, the Occupational Health and Safety Act must be applied.  Safety is everyone’s responsibility under the act and thus all staff should assess and plan to address their tasks with infection control in mind.  Application of R.A.C.E. is recommended:

RRecognize the hazard

AAssess the risk associated with the hazard

CControl the risk associated with the hazard (e.g. Hierarchy of Controls)

EEvaluate the controls

Please be advised, the HNHU is not responsible to address health and safety complaints issued by employees against their employers.  Employees and employers seeking further direction on occupational health and safety measures should consult the Ministry of Labour.