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What To Do if an Employee Tests Positive, and Reopening Updates

May 28, 2020

As you consider reopening and are making plans to get your restaurant ready, it is important to ensure you know the proper protocol if an employee tests positive for COVID-19. Our local Mayor and Governors have all warned that as the region begins to reopen, cases will rise, so you need to know the immediate steps to take. 

Steps to Take if an Employee Tests Positive: 

  • Step One: Call your local Department of Health and report the case. They can also provide specific guidance for your restaurant on how to handle operations and disinfecting. DC DOH, VDH, MDH.
  • Step Two: Determine if your restaurant needs to shut down for additional cleaning. According to the CDC, in most cases, you do not need to shut down your facility.
    • If it has been 7 days or more since the sick employee used the facility, additional cleaning and disinfection is not necessary. Your continued routine cleaning and disinfecting of all high-touch surfaces in the facility is sufficient.
    • If it has been less than 7 days since the sick employee has been in the facility, close off any areas used for prolonged periods of time by the sick person. Wait 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting to minimize potential for other employees being exposed to respiratory droplets. If waiting 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible
    • CDC cleaning and sanitizing information can be found here
  • Step Three: Exclude the employee from the facility until cleared by their healthcare provider to return to work.
  • Step Four: Notify employees that a co-worker they have been in contact with has tested positive for COVID-19. All employees from the food establishment that have come into contact with a positive case of COVID-19 should be restricted from the establishment.
  • Step Five: Encourage employees who came in contact with the infected person to get tested. Testing Site Info: DC, VA, MD

Next week DC DOH will start hosting required 20 minute webinars for those operators reopening for outdoor dining.  While it is likely only one of you will be required, we encourage you to join this webinar with your managers and key team members and come prepared with all of your questions. We will share more information once it is available.

It is also recommended that you proactively contact your insurance agent before reopening to inquire as to whether you are covered for liability in the event a guest contracts COVID-19 and claims they became infected from your restaurant.

DC Reopening Updates

Tomorrow, Friday at 1pm, the Bowser Administration will be hosting a Stage One TeleTownHall for restaurants. This is specific to our industry and they will discuss guidance on operating in Stage One and on required steps to take should your employee test positive for COVID19.   Click here to RSVP. You can also join by dialing in 844-881-1314. I highly recommend participating. 

This morning, ABRA passed emergency regulations allowing additional outdoor seating on public and private space to be used on a temporary basis, currently through July 24, 2020 unless extended. The regulations apply to outdoor sidewalk cafés or summer gardens, including an existing rooftop patio.  They also apply to many types of licensees. 

For additional seating of private space, one need only show an agreement to use the space and register with ABRA. For public space, one must register with DDOT and ABRA. Registration instructions are forthcoming.

There are numerous requirements governing the use of the additional space as well as operational requirements designed to protect workers and the public. Click here for the requirements, and see below for brief highlights. 

  • Have a menu in use containing a minimum of three (3) prepared food items available for purchase by patrons
  • Require the purchase of one or more prepared food items per table
  • On premises consumption is allowed between the hours 8:00 a.m. and midnight
  • Requirement to implement a reservation system

On inclement weather, while we wait for additional guidance on weather,  we recommend you ask the customer to pay when ordering, or when the food arrives, and that you have to-go containers at the ready. There is absolutely no indoor dining permitted to accommodate inclement weather. 

Maryland Reopening Updates

Yesterday, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan issued an Order allowing Maryland to safely move forward with the completion of Stage One of the recovery plan on Friday, May 29th at 5pm. The completion of Stage One permits restaurants, bars, and other similar establishments that sell food or beverages for consumption on-premises to offer outdoor on-premise dining. Montgomery County and Prince George’s County will be entering Stage One on Monday, June 1st, and restaurants will be able to offer on premise outdoor dining only with the below restrictions. Restaurants and bars are required to: 

  • Have all staff wear face coverings
  • Ensure patrons are seated at least six feet away from each other, except for households seated together
  • Not allow groups larger than six persons to be seated together, except members of the same household
  • Not serve food in a buffet format
  • Clean and disinfect each table between each seating in accordance with CDC and MDH guidelines, using cleaning products that meet the criteria of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use against COVID-19.

Click here for the full Order. 

Click here for Reopening Best Practices. 

The Governor indicated that if encouraging trends continue into next week, Maryland would then be in a position to begin entering Stage Two of recovery by lifting the order and allowing other non-essential businesses to begin reopening. We don't know what Stage Two will look like at this time. 

The Governor also indicated that they are looking into ways to utilize public and private space like sidewalks and roads for dining. We will keep you posted on this as more information becomes available. 

Virginia Reopening Updates

Governor Northam said today that the entire state will remain in Phase One for at least a week, and he will connect with the County Executives and Mayors in Northern Virginia to gauge comfort levels about the entire state moving into Phase Two together.  Details on what Phase 2 includes have not been released yet. 

To close, today, the House of Representatives listened to our industry and passed a bipartisan bill fixing the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act makes desperately-needed improvements for restaurants with PPP loans, including:

  • 24-week covered period (instead of 8)
  • 60/40 split (instead of 75/25)
  • Loan forgiveness still applies if FTEs won’t come back, or if revenue in December is below Feb 2020 levels.
  • Five year loan-repayment terms for future PPP loans
  • Payroll tax deferment restored

Click here for a full breakdown of the legislation. The bill was approved overwhelmingly in the House, but it has an uncertain path in the Senate.  

Getting these fixes took a village, between many industry organizations working in tandem to ensure that Congress heard us and heard what fixes needed to happen to make PPP work for restaurants. This is the final time to make sure our industry message is VISIBLE, LOUD, and CLEAR in outreach to the Senate so they close this bill up.  

You will see messaging on social media over the next few days from all organizations including RAMW, the National Restaurant Association, IRC and James Beard Foundation as the Senate comes back into Session.  No matter who’s platform you choose to use, just use one.  All are working tirelessly to get this done.  Please just use your voice and share, push out the message, and repost. 

Please email with any questions. 

Be safe. Be kind.