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Dear Food Establishment Operator,
Thank you for doing your part to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Food establishments that closed the kitchen and/or dining area should do the following when reopening:

Equipment and physical structure

  • Make sure utilities are working (for example; electrical, plumbing, and heating, ventilation/air conditioning, and fire suppression)
  • Flush water system and all plumbed food equipment for a minimum of 5 minutes
  • Ice makers should be fully emptied, pipes drained, and the equipment washed, rinsed and sanitized
  • Assess and discard food that is no longer safe (e.g., expired or spoiled foods)
  • Check that all equipment is functioning properly and maintaining proper temperatures
  • Wash, rinse, and sanitize all food contact surfaces
  • Continue services you may have discontinued (for example, pest control services, trash and recycling services)
  • Thoroughly clean and repair all physical facilities including floors, walls, and ceilings

Employee health and safety

Preventing the spread of COVID-19 via employee health monitoring is critical and food establishments must consider how the following will be implemented:

  • Train workers on symptoms of COVID-19 illness and on required hand hygiene
  • Screen employees for symptoms of COVID-19. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19: cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing. They may also have COVID-19 if they have at least two of the following: fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell.
  • Ensure handwashing sinks are stocked with soap and paper towels and hand sanitizers are available
  • Ensure 6 feet of distance between employees in both back and front of house
  • Require cloth face coverings for employees. This is not a substitute for 6 foot social distancing. Under the Local Health Officer Directive, employees who prepare, carry out, and deliver food must wear cloth face coverings.
  • Stagger work schedules as much as possible to reduce employee contact
  • Develop employee illness policies and procedures

Customer protections

  • While awaiting for the Governor's approval for customer seating, please plan and prepare in the following ways: Discontinue reusable menus if unable to thoroughly disinfect after each use -- post menu options or provide disposable menus
  • Clean and disinfect touchpoints hourly, including all surfaces at each table turning
  • Self-service food bars and self-service fountain drinks may still be restricted
  • Remove as many self-service condiment dispensers from tables or shared areas as possible
  • Disinfect condiment containers after each dining group
  • Ensure dining groups are seated at least 6 feet apart and remove or block extra seating
  • Utilize contactless payment systems, automated ordering and mobile pay or provide handwashing or hand gel for employees handling payment
  • Disinfect all touchpads after each use
  • Maximize pick-up or delivery services
  • Encourage customers to wear cloth face coverings while not seated at their table if dining or waiting for take-out in accordance with the Local Health Officer Directive.
  • Download related posters.

Governor Inslee's proposed phase-in plan

Currently, retail food establishments are under Phase 1 which does not permit dining in, rather drive-thru and to-go orders only. Under Governor Inslee’s proposed phase-in plan for businesses, the following would occur based on evidence of reduced COVID-19 risk to the community:

Phase I

  • Take-out and delivery service only
  • Onsite dining areas closed with tables and chairs stacked
  • Essential services only

Phase II

  • Restaurants <50% capacity
  • Table size limited to no more than 5 people
  • Bars closed
  • Need to maintain physical distancing

Phase III

  • Restaurants <75% capacity
  • Table size limited to no more than 10 people
  • Bars <25% capacity
  • Need to maintain physical distancing

Phase IV

  • Full capacity

The anticipated time between phases is 3-4 weeks, however this is based on evidence of COVID-19 spread in the community. In the event that there is increased COVID-19 risk, then phases 2-4 may be revert back to phase 1.

COVID-19 information and resources

Stay up-to-date on the current COVID-19 situation in Washington, Governor Inslee's proclamations, symptoms, how it spreads, and how and when people should get tested. See our Frequently Asked Questions for more information.