Coalition Issues First National Dining Guidelines
COVID-19 and its consequences moved with frightening speed, disrupting industries such as foodservice and turning lives upside down in a matter of weeks and months. The human response to the pandemic, however, has not been as fast and efficient, leading to a patchwork quilt of standards across state or municipal borders and confusing restaurant operators, employees and customers.
That began to change today, when for the first time a coalition of industry groups released national safety standards for dining.
“Restaurant operators and workers have been working around the clock to bring their restaurants back — and finally they’re seeing that they have a chance,” said Corby Kummer, executive director of the Aspen Institute’s Food and Society Program. “But it’s been next to impossible for them to keep up with complicated, constantly changing procedures and protocols recommended by city, state and federal authorities. So, we set out to create one practical, streamlined, easy-to-use set of guidelines that will guarantee best practices for keeping both workers and diners safe as restaurants reopen.”
The Aspen Institute developed the “Safety First” standards in collaboration with World Central Kitchen, the James Beard Foundation, the National Restaurant Association, the Independent Restaurant Coalition and One Fair Wage. The guidelines are being shared with more than a half-million restaurant workers and operators across the country.
“Since the onset of the pandemic, the National Restaurant Association has been working with federal, state and local officials, along with restaurant operators of every type and size, to identify and implement solutions that keep restaurant employees and guests safe,” said Tom Bené, association president and CEO. “Safety First brings together the critical elements of ventilation, health and safety to further assist restaurant operators and guests as they fully reopen and resume serving their communities.”
“We have established updated guidelines as restaurants are reopening to the public, thinking of the entire restaurant ecosystem — back of house, front of house and guests — to make sure that everyone can enjoy restaurants in a safe, healthy way.”
The program features one-page summaries and infographics for restaurants to display. They are:
- The Diner Code of Conduct, which lays out the expectations of guests while dining inside to maintain a safe indoor dining environment;
- Our COVID Pledge, which lays out the expectations of restaurant operators and workers to create a safe indoor dining environment; and
- Ventilation Guidelines to give restaurants guidance on ventilation systems and best practices.
“I am very proud that the Safety First meal preparation guidelines that we created last year have empowered [restaurants] to keep their teams and the communities they’ve served healthy and safe,” said José Andrés, founder of World Central Kitchen and co-founder of the Independent Restaurant Coalition. “And now, with Aspen and Corby leading a great coalition of partners, we have established updated guidelines as restaurants are reopening to the public, thinking of the entire restaurant ecosystem — back of house, front of house and guests — to make sure that everyone can enjoy restaurants in a safe, healthy way.”