As Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine leads the state to a gradual reopening starting May 1, many are wondering what that looks like for restaurants... including restaurants.
While no specific information has yet been finalized on the local level, if you look toward the White House's guidelines for reopening America, dine-in restaurants are some of the first businesses to reopen and will be able to "operate under strict physical distancing protocols."
After restaurants (and bars) were ordered to shutter their doors to the public on March 15, some pivoted to assorted models of carry-out, curbside pick-up, delivery and drive-thru options to continue to serve the community and offset revenue loss. And all processes adapted to Ohio Department of Health and CDC guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19: contactless pick-up or delivery, online or call-ahead ordering, credit card only payments, social distancing, etc.
So while many wait for official news, the Ohio Restaurant Association (ORA) and the Ohio Environmental Health Association have drafted a list of initial recommended restaurant operating guidelines at the request of Lt. Gov. Jon Husted.
In an email, the ORA said, "Our sector is critical to the food distribution channel in America and Ohio, where we generate 51% of all food dollars. We are confident that restaurants currently operating with carryout, drive-through and delivery have demonstrated heightened levels of safety over the past 6 weeks. We see no difference between restaurants and grocery stores providing food to the public as essential businesses, assuming safe operating procedures to avoid virus transmission."
The ORA says restaurants should be prepared to operate with the following going forward:
- Social distancing and capacity guidelines
- Facial coverings
- Heightened standards of hygiene and sanitization
- Employee health monitoring
“Our draft of recommended guidelines reflects the broad scope of Ohio businesses offering food and beverages, including fine dining, casual dining, fast casual, quick service, family style, buffets, caterers, ice cream and dessert shops, food trucks, hotel dining rooms, bars, breweries, grocery dining areas and more,” said Tod Bowen, the ORA's managing director of external affairs and government relations, in a release. "This also includes independent owners, small businesses, mid-sized operators and chains.
“We look forward to working closely with 23,000+ foodservice locations in Ohio and health officials across the state to ensure a safe environment for our guests and employees. We are looking forward to the next phase of business in Ohio so that restaurants can begin a road to recovery.”