Food and Food Establishments
Is the virus spread through food preparation? Should we stop going out to eat?
Food isn’t the issue; it’s the close proximity to other diners in the restaurant. Consider ordering take-out or delivery instead.
Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food.
In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient, refrigerated, or frozen temperatures.
What about Meals on Wheels (Home-Delivered Meals)?
Meals on Wheels is still running. Montgomery County is working with other home-delivery providers on their continuity of service plans.
What about food pantries?
The Montco Anti-Hunger Network provides resources to 39 food pantries. Information about their operations during the COVID-19 response can be found on their website.
FOR FOOD ESTABLISHMENTS
Starting on April 19, all customers are required to wear face masks or coverings while shopping. This is according to an order signed by Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine. Businesses are required to deny entry to any individual who is not wearing a mask - unless that business is providing medication, medical supplies, or food. In that case, the business must provide an alternative method of pick-up or delivery of those goods. If an individual cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition (including children under the age of 2) then that individual may enter the premises without having to provide medical documentation.
While restaurants and bars are only able to allow 50% occupancy for indoor dining, they can provide takeout and delivery food orders to customers if they choose. Walk-in, order and leave at a facility is acceptable. Additionally, they have the right to close if they choose.
Essential operations may stay open and this would include grocery stores, pharmacies, and convenience stores that sell gas.
During this time please follow the advice below and encourage food handlers to do the same:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol- based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. *Sanitizing does not eliminate the need for handwashing in foodservice
- Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
- Clean surfaces frequently, such as countertops, light switches, cell phones and other frequently touched areas
- Contain if you are sick, you should stay home until you are feeling better.
We recommend complete and thorough cleaning and sanitization throughout the day of any floors, shopping carts, hand baskets, counters, registers, scales, deli counters, shelves, high touch surfaces, etc. Please refer to the links below.
RESOURCES related to Coronavirus for the food industry
- Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers (CDC)
- COVID-19 Resources for the Food Industry (The Acheson Group)
- Coronavirus: Fresh Produce Industry Resources (United Fresh Produce Association)
- Coronavirus Resources (Food Marketing Institute), includes: Preparedness Checklist; Coronavirus and Pandemic Preparedness for the Food Industry (includes recommendations for supporting consumers, associates, human resources, retail stores, distribution centers/transportation, product suppliers, and interacting with the media).
What happens if I have to close my restaurant for an extended period of time. Are there any health codes or regulations that I need to be aware of when I reopen?
A thorough cleaning and sanitizing and discarding out of date food.