Best Practices for Food Services During COVID-19

Best Practices for Food Services During COVID-19

The FDA recently held a call to discuss and set the best practices for food services during COVID-19. Listen to a recording of the call below. This addresses key considerations for how foods offered at retail can be safely handled and delivered to the public, as well as key best practices for employee health, cleaning and sanitizing, and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Reposted from FDA.gov. Download summary version (infographic) HERE.

Managing Employee Health (Including Contracted Workers)

Personal Hygiene for Employees

  • Emphasize effective hand hygiene including washing hands for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Always wash hands with soap and water. If soap and water are not readily available, then use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol and avoid working with unwrapped or exposed foods. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Use gloves to avoid direct bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods.
  • Before preparing or eating food, always wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds for general food safety.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash hands after.

Managing Operations in a Foodservice Establishment or Retail Food Store

Continue to follow established food safety protocols and best practices for retail food establishments and important COVID-19 recommendations, including the following:   

  • Follow the 4 key steps to food safety: Always — Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill.
  • Wash, rinse, and sanitize food contact surfaces dishware, utensils, food preparation surfaces, and beverage equipment after use.
  • Frequently disinfect surfaces repeatedly touched by employees or customers such as door knobs, equipment handles, check-out counters, and grocery cart handles, etc.
  • Frequently clean and disinfect floors, counters, and other facility access areas using EPA-registered disinfectants.
  • Prepare and use sanitizers according to label instructions.  
  • When changing your normal food preparation procedures, service, delivery functions, or making staffing changes, apply procedures that ensure:
    • Cooked foods reach the proper internal temperatures prior to service or cooling.
    • Hot foods are cooled rapidly for later use – check temperatures of foods being cooled in refrigerators or by rapid cooling techniques such as ice baths and cooling wands.
    • The time foods being stored, displayed, or delivered are held in the danger zone (between 41°F and 135°F) is minimized.
    • Proper training for food employees with new or altered duties and that they apply the training according to established procedures.
  • Help customers maintain good infection control and social distancing by:
    • Discontinuing operations, such as salad bars, buffets, and beverage service stations that require customers to use common utensils or dispensers.   
    • Finding ways to encourage spacing between customers while in line for service or check out in accordance with the applicable State or local requirements.
    • Discouraging customers from bringing pets — except service animals — into stores or waiting areas.
  • Continue to use sanitizers and disinfectants for their designed purposes.
  • Verify that your ware-washing machines are operating at the required wash and rinse temperatures and with the appropriate detergents and sanitizers.
  • Remember that hot water can be used in place of chemicals to sanitize equipment and utensils in manual ware-washing machines.
  • If you donate food to food recovery or charitable organizations, check for State and local guidelines. You can also find further information at Conference for Food ProtectionExternal Link Disclaimer.

Managing Food Pick-Up and Delivery

  • Observe established food safety practices for time/temp control, preventing cross contamination, cleaning hands, no sick workers, and storage of food, etc.
  • Have employees wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, after blowing their nose, coughing or sneezing, or after touching high touch surfaces, e.g., doorknobs, and doorbells.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.  See, CDC’s How to Protect Yourself & Others.
  • Increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces such as counter tops and touch pads and within the vehicle, by wiping down surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
    • Make sure to read the label and follow manufacturer’s instructions on use.
  • Establish designated pick-up zones for customers to help maintain social distancing.
  • Practice social distancing when delivering food, e.g., offering “no touch” deliveries and sending text alerts or calling when deliveries have arrived.
  • Conduct an evaluation of your facility to identify and apply operational changes in order to maintain social distancing if offering take-out/carry-out option by maintaining a 6-foot distance from others, when possible.
  • Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold by storing in appropriate transport vessels.
    • Keep cold foods cold by keeping enough coolant materials, e.g., gel packs.
    • Keep hot foods hot by ensuring insulated cases are properly functioning.
  • Keep foods separated to avoid cross contamination, e.g., keeping raw foods separated from cooked and ready-to-eat foods.
  • Ensure that any wrapping and packaging used for food transport is done so that contamination of the food is prevented.
  • Routinely clean and sanitize coolers and insulated bags used to deliver foods.
Member Restaurants Boost Takeout and Delivery Amid Coronavirus Closures

Member Restaurants Boost Takeout and Delivery Amid Coronavirus Closures

Statewide, dining in is prohibited until further notice, per executive order by Governor Lamont, in an effort to curb COVID-19. Takeout and delivery are still permitted, however, which provides some opportunity for restaurants to recoup their losses.  Some are going for it, others are not, and still others are offering specials, promotions, and discounts to attract customers.

Regardless, all restaurants are overstaffed for the reduced demand, and workers are braced for drastic cuts to their hours and layoffs. These are family-owned, minority-owned, women-owned businesses that need your support during this time of economic uncertainty. If you have the means and feel safe to do so, please order food or purchase a gift card where possible. 

Below is a list of GNHCC member restaurants and a description of how they are adapting their business to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Because the situation is very fluid and changes are happening daily, this list is updated to the best of our knowledge, but if you are unsure, please call ahead.

Haruki Ramen & Izakaya

Haruki is offering a limited menu for takeout and delivery, from 11am-11pm daily.

Specials

  • Free delivery of UberEats orders and within 2 miles. 
  • 10% off all bottles of sake.
  • Weekly food specials (announced on their social media)

Order online for delivery through UberEats. For takeout, call 203-838-4500. Takeout is also free.

Traditional Japanese Kani Salad with cucumber, tobiko, and house spicy mayo.

Capri’s Cuisine

Order online for takeout and delivery through Yelp and Grubhub. Takeout is free. Delivery fee starts from $0.99. Taxes, service, and other fees also apply. There’s no minimum order, but $2 fee for small orders.

Capri’s top flavors of empanada include Beef Uruguay, Taco Beef, and Steak Argentina. 

iL Posto

il Posto is closed for all services, with an anticipated reopening in Summer 2020. Gift cards are available now.

Shrimp and oysters dressed with red pepper, avocado, and mixed greens.

Tablao Wine Bar

Tablao is offering a full menu for takeout and delivery, from 3-8pm daily.

Specials

  • 1/2 off bottles of wine
  • 1/2 off beers and cocktails
  • $15 sangria and margarita “pitchers”

Order online for delivery through UberEats or Grubhub. Delivery fees start from $0.99. Taxes, service, and other fees also apply. There’s no minimum order, but a $2 fee for small orders. For takeout, call 203-939-9602. Takeout is free.

Delicious tapas, paella, and sangria.

SoNo 1420 American Craft Distillers

SoNo 1420 is in the unique position of providing assistance to the community in this time of shortage of hand sanitizer. With a final concentration of 80% ethanol, the base used to make their gins and vodkas are more than 99.99% effective in killing illness causing microbes. They are bottling it, in combination with other ingredients recommended by the WHO, and making bottles available for FREE.

Pickup hand sanitizer (and booze!) at 19 Day Street, Norwalk, CT, between 3-5pm. Check their Instagram for the latest availability and pickup times. If you do not feel comfortable visiting the distillery, you can find SoNo 1420 products at these local grocery stores.

Beet and quinoa salad, plus hemp leaf garnish.

Osteria Romana

Romanacci is offering FREE take-out and delivery. 

Specials

  • Dinner for two (10% OFF) includes 2 appetizers, 2 entrees, 2 desserts
  • Dinner for four (15% OFF) includes 4 appetizers, 4 entrees, 4 desserts
  • Dinner for six (20% OFF) includes 6 appetizers, 6 entrees, 6 desserts
  • All bottles of corked wine are half price.
  • Spend $50, get a $10 gift card.
  • Spend $100, get a FREE corked bottle of wine.

Order online for takeout through ChowNow. For delivery, call 203-229-0844 (Norwalk), 203-261-1600 (Monroe).

Soft, pillowy gnocchi tossed with fresh cherries tomatoes and arugula.

Romanacci Pizza Bar

Romanacci is offering FREE take-out and delivery.

Specials

  • Meal for two (10% OFF) includes 1 app or dessert + 2 personal pizzas
  • Meal for three (15% OFF) includes 2 app or dessert + 3 personal pizzas
  • Meal for four (20% OFF) includes 3 app or dessert + 4 personal pizzas
  • All bottles of corked wine are half price.
  • Spend $100, get one FREE corked bottle of wine.

Order online for takeout through ChowNow. For delivery, call 203-956-7103 (Norwalk), 203-571-3301 (Westport).

Thin crust pizza with prosciutto, arugula, and goat cheese.

La Calle Arepas Bar

La Calle is offering takeout and delivery Tuesday-Thursday, 11am-8:30pm; Friday and Saturday, 11am-9:30pm; and Sunday, 10am-7:30pm.

Specials

  • Free delivery when you order through their website and within 3 miles.
  • 10% off your first order when you subscribe to their email list.
  • Arroz Con Pollo (Venezuelan Chicken Rice) Combos: 1 full size + tostones + 1 mini appetizer + 1 soda for $16; 2 full size + tostones + 1 mini appetizers + 2 sodas for $28; 4 full size + tostones + 2 mini appetizers + 2 liter soda for $60.
  • Arepas Combos: 1- 4 arepas + 2 liter soda for $20; 2- 6 arepas + 2 liter soda for $28; 8 arepas + 2 liter soda for $35.

Order online for takeout and delivery through their website or call 203-612-4948.

Chicken or shrimps pasta with Alfredo sauce, bell peppers, bacon, sweet corn, and Parmesan cheese.

Guidance for Businesses on “Stay Safe, Stay Home”

Guidance for Businesses on “Stay Safe, Stay Home”

Governor Lamont wants Connecticut residents to “Stay Safe, Stay Home.” On March 23, all non-essential workers statewide were directed to work from home, and non-essential businesses to suspend in-person business activities. On April 1, the order was updated with “Safe Store Rules” for essential businesses. Find answers to FAQs below.

Stay Safe. Stay Home.

My message to Connecticut is simple: Stay Safe. Stay Home.The more people stay home, we can flatten the curve and allow our healthcare system to stay ahead of the surge. I promise you everyday the State of Connecticut is doing everything we can to keep you and your families safe.

Posted by Office of Governor Ned Lamont on Saturday, March 21, 2020
“Mi mensaje a Connecticut es simple: #MantenteSeguro #QuédateEnCasa. Cuantas más personas se queden en casa, podemos #AcoplarLaCurva y permitir que nuestro sistema de atención médica se mantenga por delante del aumento. Le prometo que todos los días el estado de Connecticut está trabajando para hacer todo lo posible para mantenerlo a usted y a sus familias a salvo.”

“My message to Connecticut is simple: #StaySafe #StayHome. The more people staying at home, we can #FlattenTheCurve and allow our healthcare system to stay ahead of the increase. I promise you that the state of Connecticut is working every day to do everything possible to keep you and your families safe.”

Who is exempt?

Essential Businesses or Nonprofits designated HERE. In summary, “essential” industries include Healthcare and Public Health Operations, Infrastructure, Manufacturing, Food and Agriculture, Supply Chains, Childcare Services, Homeless Services, Public Safety and Defense, Construction, Sanitation, Technology Support, and certain Retail and Professional Services, such as grocery stores, hardware stores, banks, and auto repair shops. If you believe your business is essential, but it is not listed, you may apply for designation as an Essential Business.

Can exempt status be taken away?

Yes. Nothing in this guidance shall be used to modify any future Executive Order that separately and specifically addresses a particular business or activity, and businesses must comply with any such orders unless and until they are modified or terminated separately. This situation is evolving and orders will be issued based on the latest recommendations for public health and civil preparedness emergency. Sign up for the CT Alert System.

I am non-exempt, how do I comply?

To the maximum extent possible, implement any telecommuting or work from home procedures that you can safely employ. Reduce the on-site workforce at each business location by 100% from pre-state of emergency declaration employment levels. Non-essential retailers may be staffed on-site, provided that they may only offer remote ordering (e.g. phone, internet, mail, dropbox) and curb-side pick-up or delivery and 2) Non-essential businesses and nonprofits may be staffed or allow third parties on-site (to the minimum extent necessary) to provide security, maintenance, and receipt of mail and packages.

I am exempt, how do I keep customers and employees safe?

Effective April 3, every retail establishment in the state is required to take additional protective measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 between and among customers, employees, and other persons such as delivery drivers and maintenance people. 

Safe Stores Rules

Occupancy, store layout, and managing customer flow

  • Occupancy capped at 50% of store capacity. At entrance, staff will maintain a count of the number of customers entering and exiting stores.
  • Clearly mark 6’ spacing in lines on floor at checkout lines and other high-traffic areas and, as much as practicable, provide ways to encourage 6’ spacing in lines outside the store.
  • Post conspicuous signage and floor markings to direct customers and limit bottlenecks and/or encourage spacing and flow in high-density areas.
  • Have aisles be one-way in stores where practicable to maximize spacing between customers. Identify the one-way aisles with conspicuous signage and/or floor markings.
  • Maximize space between customers and employees at checkout lines, including, but not limited to, only using every other checkout line, where and when possible.
  • Install Plexiglas shields to separate employees from customers at checkout lines and other areas in the store where practicable.

General

  • Communicate with customers through in store signage, and public service announcements and advertisements, there should only be one person per household during shopping trips, whenever possible.
  • Discontinue all self-serve foods (e.g., salad bar, olive bar) and product sampling.
  • Allow “touchless” credit card transactions. If not possible, sanitize credit card machines (including pen) regularly and consistently.
  • Cart and basket handles sanitized between uses (by staff).
  • Wherever possible, employees will wear gloves and face masks at all times that they are interacting with customers and/or handling products.
SBA Disaster Assistance Loans Available to CT Small Businesses

SBA Disaster Assistance Loans Available to CT Small Businesses

The federal Small Business Administration (SBA) has declared Connecticut a disaster area. The SBA provides low-interest loans to help businesses recover from declared disasters. Has your business suffered substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Read the full press release: ENG | ESP

Who qualifies?

Small businesses, private non-profit organizations of any size, small agricultural cooperatives and small aquaculture enterprises that have been financially impacted as a direct result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) since Jan. 31, 2020, may qualify.

What can the funds be used for?

The SBA’s disaster loans can help you pay for just about anything you need to afford after a disaster. With an Economic Injury Disaster Loan, you can use the funds to meet your financial obligations and pay for operating expenses that could’ve been met if the disaster hadn’t occurred.

How long does it take to get approved?

Receiving an SBA disaster loan is a 3-step process: Application, Property/Loss Verification & Loan Processing Decision, Loan Closing & Disbursement of Funds. The SBA states that the first and second step takes an average of four weeks. Step 3 takes around five days for borrowers to receive funds.

 

For more information, visit https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela

For assistance with your loan application, contact the SBA Connecticut District Office, 860-240-4700, Connecticut_DO@sba.gov or Connecticut Small Business Development Center, 877-723-2828.

 

Broad Business Closures to Curb COVID-19

Broad Business Closures to Curb COVID-19

On March 17, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont joined with the governors of New York and New Jersey in ordering bars, restaurants, gyms and movie theaters to close until further notice. Additionally, they banned gatherings of 50 or more people, forcing most venues, museums, and cultural attractions to close as well.

The next day, in Greenwich, First Selectman Fred Camillo ordered all body care facilities, including hair salons, barber shops and nail salons, as well as massage establishments to close through April 30.

As of this post, restaurants are still permitted to offer takeout and delivery services, and body care facilities outside of Greenwich may choose to operate at their own discretion. Supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations, and other essential businesses will remain open.

Changes to the initial restrictions are expected, as per the recommendations of the CDC, and leading state and local governments, such as NYC, where a “shelter-in-place” mandate is under consideration.

“This is changing so fast. We’ve got to work together on a coordinated basis,” Lamont said.

The same is true of the effort to keep our small businesses afloat during this disruption. Below is a list of the Chamber businesses that have been effected by the closures, and ways to support them during this time of economic uncertainty for all.

Stepping Stones Museum for Children

Stepping Stones closed to the public voluntarily on March 13, just days after celebrating 20 years in business. Read their statement to the public here.

As a non-profit organization, Stepping Stones is dependent upon the generosity of donors to remain open, now more than ever. In 2020, donations benefit Open Arms, an initiative to improve accessibility to children with financial, language, and special needs barriers.

Make a donation HERE.

Museum mascot BooZoo hugs children at Best Birthday Party Ever!  

The Ridgefield Playhouse

Ridgefield Playhouse will livestream a star-studded performance this Friday, March 20 at 8pm! Celebrity performers include Stephen Schwartz and Debbie Gravitte! More info HERE.

As a non-profit organization, Ridgefield is dependent upon the generosity of donors to remain open, now more than ever. In 2020, donations benefit community outreach and facilities upgrades.

Make a donation HERE.

 

Ridgefield Thrift Shop volunteers presented a grant to The Ridgefield Playhouse.

Real Estate University

When the CT Real Estate Commission and Department of Consumer Protection approved live-streaming classes on March 9, 2020, Real Estate University was prepared and ready to go!

Take their live-streaming CT Real Estate course on a PC, Mac, Android phone, iPhone, or tablet. There’s nothing to download or install. Just log into their website on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays at 9:00am and 6:00pm.

Sign up HERE.

Prospective students attend a recent information session at Real Estate University.

Cesar Pineda Agency

From Cesar: “The unknown is what we deal with on a daily basis, and we try to advise our clients to always hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. We are available to service your insurance remotely or until further notice in person. Contact us to asses your risk and protect those you care about today.”

Book a one-on-one consultation by phone (203) 803-2153 or email cpineda@farmersagent.com. Receive general advice by following his social media accounts, Facebook and Instagram, where he regularly posts informational videos. 

Cesar with his partner in business and life, Mae Pineda.

Causality Tattoo Company

Causality Tattoo Company encourages clients looking to consult them or book future appointments to email causalitytattoo@gmail.com.

View artists’ portfolios, get inspired, and book HERE.

Javier Eastman, Owner/Artist, and wife. Photo by Lidia Monrroy Photography.

Rene Soto Gallery

renesotogallery.com contains an extensive gallery of historical exhibitions, from 2018-present. 

View artists’ pages, find a piece you can’t live without, and email renesotogallery@gmail.com to inquire if it is available for purchase. 

Rene Soto, Owner/Founder, with Charles Gulbrandsen, featured artist of March 2020.

Kostas’ Norwalk Shoe Repair

Kostas does more than repair shoes. He has a diverse portfolio of leather goods for both men and women, including belts, bracelets, and guitar straps.

Contact him at 203-838-1481 or info@NorwalkShoeRepair.com to propose a commission or inquire about an item posted HERE.

Kostas teaches his trade to a participant of the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program.

Cigar Factory Outlet

Discountcigars.com is the online store of local business Cigar Factory Outlet. They accept Visa, Mastercard, and American Express.

Can’t find what you’re looking for or overwhelmed by the options? Call a cigar expert TOLL FREE: 1-888-PUF-CGAR (1-888-783-2427).

Cigar Factory Outlet has been family-owned for 4 Generations, since 1932. 

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