RESTAURANTS AND FOOD RETAILERS COMMITTEE
Throughout this process, the Committee proactively sought a wide array of viewpoints and perspectives. This started with the review of guidance provided by a variety of national organizations and public health experts, and a close look at how jurisdictions throughout the region and country are handling similar issues. At the local level, in addition to the industry stakeholders who are part of the Committee, we tapped a broader group of restaurant owners, operators, and workers to help develop some of the guidelines with a focus on economic and equity considerations. Our Committee also consulted with advocates and reviewed letters from multiple advocacy organizations and community leaders, which are included in the report’s
appendix. The Committee has also utilized the Reopen DC survey, which yielded more than 130 comments specific to the topics within our purview, a survey conducted by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington that included feedback from 150 area restaurants, and a survey conducted by the DC Bar and Restaurant Workers Alliance. In order to gain insight and perspective from the Council, the Committee held a conference call with Chairman Phil Mendelson and Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie.
In addition to the report’s primary guidance and universal safeguards (e.g., physical distancing of at least six feet, use of masks in public spaces, stringent sanitation, and hygiene practices) the Committee proposes the following guidance for the subsectors listed below.
The Committee also recommends adoption of the sub-sector specific universal safeguards outlined below.
The Committee and its members have identified several additional initiatives and ideas for consideration, which include:
Continued permission for restaurants to provide take-out and delivery of alcoholic beverages throughout all phases of reopening
Relaxed criteria for outdoor operations, enabling establishments to incorporate and/or expand outdoor seating areas while ensuring physical distancing
Flexibility for food service establishments to change the type of license they hold within the food service category
Authorization of food service businesses to conduct some or all operations at secondary locations
Implementation of ‘click and collect’ for SNAP authorized food retailers and grocers to facilitate curbside grocery pickup
Pursuing federal FEMA funding to support restaurants providing meals to vulnerable residents
Creation of a tax incentive for restaurants to donate food to frontline and vulnerable residents
Expansion of SNAP, WIC and free school meal programs to assist vulnerable residents
Prioritization of the development of grocery stores and urban farming in food deserts and Wards with limited access to fresh food
Expand transportation programs for low-income residents like the Taxi to Rail and Lyft Grocery pilot program to facilitate access to food in low-grocery-density neighborhoods
Expand urban faming in the District to meet needs of vulnerable populations through investment in infrastructure including cold storage and greenhouses, and identification of District properties for the Urban Land Lease Program
Display of ‘safety pledge’ signage in restaurant windows, facilitating mutual acknowledgment of restaurant safety and customer participation in safety guidelines while at the establishment. Sample pledge would read as follows:
o Our promise to you (restaurants to customers):
- Our establishment is committed to following and adhering to all health and operating measures outlined by Mayor Bowser, DC Health, and recommended guidance from the FDA and ServSafe.
- We will continue to lead in safe sanitation practices.
- We will monitor the health of all staff.
- We will maintain strict physical distancing guidelines for all seating.
- We will make hand sanitizer or hand washing stations available at all entrances.
- We will clean and sanitize common areas and all surfaces regularly.
- We will clean and sanitize all tables and chairs after every use.
- We will sanitize place settings, utensils, menus, and condiments after every use, or we will use single use materials.
o Your promise to us (customers to restaurants):
- You will keep everyone safe by staying home if you have recently been exposed to COVID-19, have symptoms of COVID-19 (including a fever, aches, cough, shortness of breath, headache, chills, or loss of taste/smell), or are sick in any way.
- You will limit your party size to six or fewer guests. If more than six guests, you must pledge that they are all be from the same household.
- You will practice physical distancing in all waiting areas and while seated.
- You will utilize hand sanitizer or a hand washing station upon entry.
- You will consider contactless delivery options if you have underlying health conditions or are otherwise concerned about contracting COVID-19.