Keeping Restaurants Safe: A Guide For Restaurant Employees

  1. Prevention Practices for Restaurant Staff
  2. Workplace Recommendations
  3. Conclusion

Prevention Practices for Restaurant Staff

an empty restaurant

Protect Yourself and Your Customers

You've learned about specific hygiene practices to protect yourself and others. Let's review some of the most important and how they specifically apply to the restaurant environment:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water:
    • For at least 20 seconds
    • Frequently throughout your shift (everytime you use the restroom, before serving food or drinks to a table, after cleaning up after customers leave a table)
    • Especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • If soap and water is not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home or wear a facemask if you are sick 
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces including:
    • Tables
    • Countertops and bar surfaces
    • Electronic devices and computer stations
    • Doorknobs
    • Light switches
    • Menus
    • Condiment bottles
    • Salt and pepper shakers
    • Bathrooms

Read more about the CDC's cleaning and disinfecting recommendations.

Workplace Recommendations

a waitress smiling in a restaurant

A Healthy Workplace Environment 

In addition to general hygiene and safety procedures, restaurants have distinctive opportunities to ensure a clean and healthy environment for its employees and patrons. 

For general information about how to get your workplace ready for COVID-19, read this document from the WHO. 

Special Considerations for Restaurants

In addition to current safety practices and regulations, restaurant management should review their policies and procedures to see if there are opportunities for further protection in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time, many of you are needing to close to the public or to only offer takeout and delivery. Once you are able to seat and serve customers again, the following should be considered:

  • Distance patrons to avoid close seating arrangements
  • Limit in-person patronage to smaller numbers in accordance with the CDC's latest guidelines
  • Consider distancing patrons in places with close seating arrangements
  • Consider limiting in-person patronage to 50 or less and make use of online take out ordering 
  • Make handsoap and hand sanitizer easily and readily accessible to both patrons and employees; consider adding in additional hand-washing or hand sanitizer stations (at entrances, hostess stand, near food service areas)
  • Offer employees flexible sick leave and paid time off
  • Ask customers who show obvious signs of sickness to leave
  • If you serve communal food or snacks, suspend this practice
  • Supervise cleaning and disinfecting procedures
  • Display informational posters on practicing good hygiene in restrooms (display both Spanish and English)
  • Open windows to allow fresh air in, if possible
  • Advertise the steps you are taking to make your restaurant safer for patrons during this time


The purpose of this presentation was to inform and educate restaurant workers about the coronavirus by sharing information that comes directly from the WHO, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other reputable sources, in order to dispel myths and equip you with the most accurate information available to protect yourself and others. 

You should be able to:

  • Identify the symptoms of the coronavirus, how the virus spreads, and who is most at risk from the virus
  • Describe general hygiene and prevention practices
  • Recognize the meaning of social distancing
  • Identify methods of sharing the facts about the virus with others
  • Summarize best practices of prevention in a restaurant environment