Coronavirus: Salad bars, buffets, self-service food stations can reopen

Ohioans will be allowed to serve themselves starting Friday at salad bars, buffet tables and drink stations.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday evening that Ohio Department of Health Director Stephanie McCloud signed an amendment to a health order imposed to help curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

This means restaurants, bars and grocery stores can reopen self-serve food stations, so long as they follow certain rules.

Customers must wear a mask while in line and while loading plates with food. An employee must serve any customer who is not able to wear a mask, according to the amended order.

Signs must be posted requiring customers to use hand sanitizer before and after serving themselves and to maintain at least six feet of social distance while in line.

Buffet tables, salad bars and drink stations must be at least six feet from customer seating and lines cannot extend into seating areas. Directional signage also is required indicating where the line begins.

The self-serve areas must be continually monitored by staff, which includes monitoring customer hand sanitizing practices, the revised order stated.

Other guidelines include:

  • Frequent, at least hourly, replacement or sanitizing of serving utensils. 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.
  • Frequent cleaning and sanitizing of commonly touched surfaces.
  • Food must be protected from contamination, including sneeze guards on self-serve equipment.

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