Back to Work Guidelines for Counter Service Restaurants

As COVID-19 spread across the US, and a number of states enacted stay-at-home orders, your counter service restaurant quickly became an essential food provider. You adapted by limiting your business to drive-through-only service or added curbside or delivery. Now, restrictions are loosening and more changes await as you prepare for the next phases of reopening.

FaciliSafety is here to help you make sense of - and succeed in - the new normal for your industry with these guidelines.


Start with a Plan 

Review and assess your current procedures and practices for infection prevention. Having a plan in place will make policy and procedure changes easier for you, your employees, and your customers.

  • TIP: Use the Social Distancing & Health Hygiene Guidelines below to inform your plan.
  • TIP: Update your plan as needed. It should be a living document that reflects the changes determined by your state and local officials.

Designate a leader or owner of the plan, a person who knows the plan inside and out and can answer questions and address situations as they arise.

Communicate your policies clearly and concisely to employees and customers. Post signs inside and outside of your building. Update your social-media accounts with your new policies and procedures so customers have the opportunity to learn about them before they arrive at your door.

Stay informed. Visit official coronavirus websites at the local and state level, as well as CDC and OSHA. Sign up for notifications so you don't miss changes or updates.


What Should Health and Safety Protocols for Counter Service Businesses Look Like?

Masks/Face Coverings

  • Employees
    • If any position or task in your business has previously been determined to require PPE by OSHA (such as working with hazardous materials), you must provide approved PPE to those employees.
    • Most states, as of mid-June 2020, require face coverings be worn by employees of essential businesses. Because of your work in the food industry, your counter/quick service restaurant is considered essential. Visit your state's coronavirus website for up-to-date regulations. When in doubt, it's best to provide your employees with medical grade masks.
  • Customers
    • Both CDC and OSHA recommend that everyone wear cloth face coverings when in enclosed public spaces and/or where physical distancing cannot be maintained.
      • Face coverings can help prevent the unintentional spread of respiratory droplets when talking, sneezing, or coughing by someone who is presymptomatic or asymptomatic.
    • Additionally, most states as of mid-June 2020 require residents to wear masks or face coverings as recommended by CDC and OSHA.
    • Except while eating, your dine-in customers should wear face coverings or masks that cover their nose and mouth, as long as they can medically tolerate it.
    • Post clear and friendly signs throughout your facility to notify and remind customers of the requirements and benefits of wearing masks.


Washing Hands / Hand Sanitizer

As a restauranteur, you are no stranger to the regulations requiring employees to wash their hands. Now, more than ever, compliance with handwashing is crucial, for both staff and customers. Here's how to help ensure everyone is doing his or her part.

  • Employees
    • Add or update your signs to include proper handwashing techniques in bathrooms and prep stations.
  • Customers
    • Provide touchless hand sanitizers at entrances and checkout areas where cards or currency are exchanged.
    • Add friendly reminders about handwashing and hand sanitizer use at entrances, inside bathrooms, and in other high-traffic areas.



Arguably the most important part of your coronavirus plan, disinfecting must be thorough and frequent on high-touch surfaces. As you create your plan, scrutinize every touchable surface of your building - counters, doors, door handles, credit card machines, etc.

  • Post a schedule for cleaning frequency of surfaces based on how often they are touched.
  • Post a friendly sign letting customers know about your commitment to disinfection for their safety and the safety of your employees.
  • Use EPA-approved disinfectants for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), and be sure to follow the directions on the label for safe, effective use.


Physical Distancing
  • Employees
    • If workstations aren't 6' apart by design, use floor signs or tape to designate where workers should stand to maintain the appropriate distance.
  • Customers
    • Help your customers remember to stay 6' apart from other patrons by using floor signs or tape to mark the distance as they wait to place their order.
    • Based on capacity limitations, you may need to queue customers outside during peak times. Portable stanchions with retractable belts or orange cones can be quickly set up and removed as needed.

These guidelines will help you reopen for business in a safe and healthy way. Be sure to stay updated by visiting the CDC's, OSHA's, and your state's coronavirus websites and signing up for notifications.

Main COVID-19 page
Grocery & Food Retail Workers
Interim Guidance for Businesses & Employers

Main COVID-19 page
Retail Workers
Cloth Face Coverings FAQs


Looking for more information? Check out our room-specific guidelines below.

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