Coronavirus (Covid- 19) Information, Protocols, Prevention measures and Compliance with NYC Department of Health Department for NYC Restaurant and Foodservice Industry

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in humans and many different species of animals.

First detected in Wuhan, China, the virus that causes COVID-19, is a respiratory illness, initially spread from animals to humans, but is now is spreading through person-to-person contact. Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, cough, fever, and shortness of breath.

There is currently no vaccine or treatments available, however medication and vaccine research is underway.  Visit the CDC for more info

HOW IS CORONAVIRUS SPREAD?

When an infected person coughs, sneezes or exhales, droplets of infected fluid are released.  Those droplets contaminate surfaces and objects nearby.  Touching those surfaces can cause a person to become infected, however, the virus will not stay on the surface for too long.   People in close contact (within 6 feet), can catch the virus by breathing in droplets of the infected fluid.

PREVENTION RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ALL

  • Wash hands often with soap and water (lathering hands well) for at least 20 seconds (singing the ABC song is an effective tip…teach your kids)
  • When water isn’t available use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60- 95% alcohol.
  • Hand dryers alone will NOT kill the virus (that is a myth), make sure to wash first, then dry thoroughly with paper or a hand dryer
  • DO NOT touch your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home if you are sick.

CAN THE VIRUS BE SPREAD THROUGH FOOD?

The World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have not seen evidence that the coronavirus is being transmitted through food or food packaging.

SHOULD DINERS BE WORRIED ABOUT VISITING A NYC RESTAURANT?  NO!

According to the NYC Department of Health, New Yorkers do not need to change anything about where they get their food or how to prepare it. Nevertheless, restaurant operators should do whatever they can to make guests safer:

  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that have been touched by customers (menus, tables, counters, doorknobs, light switches, salt and pepper shakers, condiment bottles etc.)
  • Make sure hand sanitizer (alcohol based) is available for guests to use
  • Encourage sick employees stay home….no sick servers!

WHAT SHOULD FOOD SERVICE OPERATORS DO TO PREVENT SPREADING THE VIRUS?

Hygiene is of paramount importance within the foodservice industry at the best of times, and even more so during an outbreak such as coronavirus.

Our existing clients should continue everything they have been doing to comply with Department of Health requirements, avoid unnecessary violations, continue operating at the highest level of food safety, and maintain inspection readiness every day. In addition, we recommend staying informed and implementing proactive practices.

  • Continue to follow daily food safety protocols
  • Stay compliant with the Food Code
  • Provide staff with tissues, no-touch trash cans and hand sanitizer.
  • Hold weekly staff meetings
  • Stay up to date with information from reliable sources (CDC,WHO)
  • Keep employees informed and up to date on how the outbreak is progressing
  • Schedule employee seminars
  • Make sure staff is properly trained in food safety
  • Wash, rinse AND sanitize any food contact surface as often as possible (set timers)
  • Go over proper handwashing with employees.
  • Instruct staff to wash often and use hand sanitizer
  • Reinforce practicing good personal hygiene and not working while ill
  • Employees that are ill should not be working, if they come in send them home
  • Implement a paid sick leave, if possible
  • Make sure work policies are flexible (do not require staff calling in ill to provide a doctor’s note)
  • Train staff to do different tasks, in case there is a shortage of employees due to illness
  • Have as many FPC holders as possible, encourage employees to take food training courses
  • DO NOT PANIC

Given the unknown and changing nature of Coronavirus (COVID-19), we will continue to closely monitor any changes to existing preventative measures and strategies, in order to assist food service operators reduce the risk of spread and remain in compliance.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

*Stay up to date with CDC updates on Coronavirus

*Advice for the general public World Health Organization

* Visit NYC Department of Health for NYC Business Specific Information

* Johns Hopkins provides a map keeping track of cases around the world