By Robert B. Milligan, Mark A. Lies, II, Adam R. YoungIlana R. Morady, and Craig B. Simonsen

Seyfarth Synopsis: A new California State guidance provides direction for dine-in restaurants, brewpubs, craft distilleries, breweries, bars, pubs, and wineries to provide a healthy and clean environment for workers and customers. 

The State COVID-19 industry guidance site indicates that “as California moves into stage 2 of our Resilience Roadmap, every business should take steps to reduce the risk of COVID-19 and create a safer environment for workers and customers.” The Cal/OSHA and Health Department guidance is intended for dine-in restaurants that are permitted to re-open pursuant to county health rules.

Workplace Specific Plan for Dine-In Restaurants

The guidance provides an outline for a written, worksite-specific COVID-19 prevention plan for every location, by performing a comprehensive risk assessment of work areas and designating a point person at each establishment to implement the plan. The key bullets for the plan include:

  • Identify contact information for the local health department where the restaurant is located for communicating information about COVID-19 outbreaks among employees or customers.
  • Train and communicate with employees and employee representatives on the plan.
  • Regularly evaluate the establishment for compliance with the plan and document and correct deficiencies identified.
  • Investigate any COVID-19 illness and determine if any work-related factors could have contributed to risk of infection. Update the plan as needed to prevent further cases.
  • Identify close contacts (within six feet for 15 minutes or more) of an infected employee and take steps to isolate COVID-19 positive employee(s) and close contacts.
  • Adhere to the training and other related guidelines below.

Topics for Employee Training

The dine-in restaurants should provide employee training on:

  • Information on COVID-19, how to prevent it from spreading, and which underlying health conditions may make individuals more susceptible to contracting the virus.
  • Self-screening at home, including temperature and/or symptom checks using CDC guidelines.
  • The importance of not coming to work if employees have a frequent cough, fever, difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, recent loss of taste or smell, or if they or someone they live with have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • To seek medical attention if their symptoms become severe, including persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion, or bluish lips or face. Updates and further details are available on CDC’s webpage.
  • The importance of frequent handwashing with soap and water, including scrubbing with soap for 20 seconds (or using hand sanitizer with at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol when employees cannot get to a sink or handwashing station, per CDC guidelines).
  • The importance of physical distancing, both at work and off work time.
  • Proper use of face coverings.

Restaurants should consult this guidance, prepare a plan, and appoint a key point person to guide re-opening efforts. They should consult with outside counsel on necessary policies, protocols, and precautions to protect the health and safety of employees, as well as secure the confidence of customers.

For more information on this or any related topic, please contact the authors, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of the Seyfarth Workplace Safety and Health (OSHA/MSHA) Team.