Guidance for Food Establishments During COVID-19

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Food establishments may open for takeout, delivery, and indoor and outdoor dining.

Executive Order 79 took effect on May 28, 2021 and eased all distancing and capacity restrictions. The following still apply:

  • All individuals in the Commonwealth aged two and older are strongly encouraged to cover their mouth and nose with a mask, except while eating or drinking, in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.
  • Any private entity may adopt a mask policy that is more stringent than the Executive Order, so long as the entity’s policy does not violate state or federal law. An entity, however, may not adopt a policy that is less stringent than Executive Order 79.

Food establishments should follow Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and CDC recommendations and best practices for masking, distancing, handwashing, cleaning, symptom screening, ventilation, and other mitigation measures. See VDH's General Recommendations for Businesses and other Establishments Maintaining a Healthy Facility and Preventing COVID-19.

Additional requirements for employees and employers can be found in the Department of Labor and Industry’s (DOLI) Standard for Infectious Disease Prevention of the SARS- CoV-2 Virus that Causes COVID-19. DOLI FAQ’s may be found here

Precautions to Continue Operations if a Worker Becomes Sick

CDC recommends food service employers take the following precautions to continue operations if a worker is suspected to have, or is diagnosed with, COVID-19:

Workers should:

  • Workers who have or develop symptoms (e.g., fever, cough, or shortness of breath) should notify their supervisor and stay home or go home.
  • Sick workers should follow CDC recommendations. Employees should not return to work until they meet all the criteria to end home isolation, in consultation with a healthcare provider.

Employers should:

  • Close off areas used by the person who is sick.
  • Clean and disinfect the sick worker’s workspace. Wait 24 hours—or if 24 hours is not possible, wait as long as practical—before cleaning or disinfecting.
  • Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the exposed area, if reasonable given food safety regulations.
  • Collect information about the worker’s contacts with co-workers, up to 2 days prior to symptom onset, to identify other workers who could have been exposed.
  • Inform any workers who may have been exposed, while maintaining confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Instruct potentially exposed workers what to do based on the CDC’s Public Health Recommendations for Community-Related Exposure.