Ohio issues new rules for food buffets

Published 8:06 am Tuesday, February 16, 2021

COLUMBUS — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced that Ohio Department of Health Director Stephanie McCloud signed the Addendum to Director’s Third Amended Order that Reopens Restaurants, Bars, Banquet and Catering Facilities and Services to Dine-In Service, with Exceptions.
This amended order, reopens self-service food stations in restaurants, bars, banquet and catering facilities, and services, as long as the following conditions are met:
• Customers must wear facial coverings while using self-service food stations or in line for self-service food stations. Those unable to wear a facial covering must be served by an employee.
• Buffet tables/salad bars must be spaced a minimum of six feet away from customer seating/tables, and lines must not extend into seating areas.
• Customer flow at buffet tables/salad bars must move in one direction with a beginning point and ending point, and customers must maintain at least six feet of social distancing while in line.
• Directional signage must be posted indicating where the customer line begins.
• Hand sanitizer must be placed at self-serve food stations, including at the front of the line and end of the line of buffet tables/salad bars, and used by customers prior to, and after, serving themselves.
• At least six feet of social distancing must be maintained between seated customers and customers in line for a buffet/salad bar and monitored by employees.
• Serving utensils must be replaced or cleaned and sanitized at least hourly. It is recommended that customers use disposable napkins, tissues, wax paper, etc., when handling serving utensils, and operators of self-service food stations are encouraged to make them available. A trash receptacle should be conveniently located.
• Use of individually packaged condiments is recommended instead of shared or bulk condiment dispensers.
• Commonly touched surfaces must be cleaned and sanitized frequently.
• While in operation, self-serve areas must be continually monitored by staff who are trained in food safety, including monitoring customer hand sanitizing practices at the self-service food station.
• Food must be protected from contamination, including sneeze guards on self-serve equipment.
• Signage must be placed at self-service food stations requiring customers to use hand sanitizer before and after serving themselves, and to maintain six feet of social distancing while in line.
• The signage should recommend that customers use disposable napkins, tissues, wax paper, etc., when handling serving utensils.
A sample sign is available on Ohio’s coronavirus website at https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/responsible-restart-ohio/Posters-and-Signs
The order went into effect on Thursday.

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