VDH Guidance for Food Establishments Regarding COVID‐19

On May 28, 2021, the mitigation strategies (reduced occupancy, social distancing, disinfection, etc.) previously required by Executive Order 72 are no longer mandatory for food establishments in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Visit the VDH masking page for the most current mask recommendations and requirements. Food establishments may elect to institute mask wearing policies for employees or patrons, as well as to continue any other previously-mandated mitigation strategies in place prior to May 28.

  • Post signage at the entrance that states that no one with a fever or symptoms of
    COVID-19, a positive diagnostic test for the virus that causes COVID-19 in the prior
    ten days, or known exposure to a COVID-19 case in the prior 14 days, is permitted in
    the establishment.
  •  Post signage at the entrance and at points of sale stating that patrons must wear a
    mask, except while eating and drinking, in accordance with Fifth Amended Executive
    Order 72.
  • Post signage to provide public health reminders regarding physical distancing,
    gatherings, options for high-risk individuals, and staying home if sick (See samples at
    the bottom of this document).
  • All parties must be separated by at least six feet, including in the bar area, (i.e., the six
    feet cannot include the space taken up by the seated guest). If tables are not movable,
    seat parties at least six feet apart, including in the bar area. Spacing must also allow for
    physical distancing from areas outside of the facility’s control (i.e., provide physical
    distancing from persons on public sidewalks).
  • All private bookings are limited to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
  • All parties, whether seated together or across multiple tables, must be limited to no
    more than 50 patrons indoors and no more than 100 patrons outdoors.
  • Congregating areas of restaurants must be closed to patrons except for through-traffic.
    Patrons may be seated at the bar for service, provided a minimum of six feet is
    provided between parties at the bar. Non-bar seating in the bar area (i.e., tables or
    counter seats that do not line up to a bar or food service area) may be used for
    customer seating as long as a minimum of six feet is provided between parties at
  • Do not seat multiple parties at any one table unless marked with six foot divisions
    (such as with tape).
  • If live musicians are performing at an establishment, they must remain at least ten feet
    from patrons and staff and also wear a mask
  • Employees are required to wear masks over their nose and mouth while working at
    their place of employment.
  • Patrons must wear masks over their nose and mouth, except while eating and
  • Buffets may be open for self-service, with continuous monitoring by trained staff
    required at food lines, and serving utensils must be changed hourly during peak meal
    times. Facilities must provide hand sanitizer at buffets, and employees and patrons
    must use barriers (e.g. gloves or deli tissue) when touching utensils.
  •  Promote frequent and thorough hand washing, including by providing employees,
    customers, visitors, the general public, and other persons entering into the place of
    employment with a place to wash their hands. If soap and running water are not
    immediately available, provide hand sanitizers. Additional hand hygiene requirements
    for Virginia employees and employers can be found in the Department of Labor and
    Industry’s Final Permanent Standard for Infectious Disease Prevention of the SARSCoV-2 Virus that Causes COVID-19. Further hand hygiene guidance can be found on
    the CDC website. A CDC training video is available here:
  • Perform routine cleaning and disinfection of frequently contacted surfaces including
    digital ordering devices, check presenters, self-service areas, tabletops, bathroom
    surfaces, and other common touch areas during operation. Tabletops must be cleaned
    between patrons.
  • Table resets must be done by an employee who has washed their hands with soap and
    water for at least 20 seconds just prior to reset activities.
  • Patrons may wait for takeout or for seated dining in the lobby area, but they must
    maintain six feet of physical distance between parties.
  • Prior to a shift and on days employees are scheduled to work, employees must screen
    themselves for symptoms prior to starting work. Employees should also self-monitor
    their symptoms by self-taking of temperature to check for fever and utilizing the
    questions provided in the VDH Interim Guidance for COVID-19 Daily Screening of
    Employees before reporting to work. CDC considers a person to have a fever when
    they have a measured temperature of 100.4° F (38° C) or greater, feels warm to the
    touch, or gives a history of feeling feverish.
  • For employers with established occupational health programs, employers can
    consider measuring temperature and assessing symptoms of employees prior to
    starting work/before each shift. CDC considers a person to have a fever when they
    have a measured temperature of 100.4° F (38° C) or greater, feels warm to the touch,
    or gives a history of feeling feverish. If implementing health checks, conduct them
    safely and respectfully, and in accordance with any applicable privacy and records
    retention laws and regulations. Confidentiality should be respected.

Best Practices:

Establishments are encouraged to utilize the following best practices to the extent they are feasible:

  • Utilize reservations for dining on the premises.
  • Use staff facilitated seating where appropriate. If seating is not staff facilitated and tables cannot be moved to meet the physical distancing requirements outlined above, tables that should not be used must be clearly marked that they are out of service.
  • Assign employee(s) to monitor and clean high touch areas while in operation.
  • Use technology solutions where possible to reduce person-to-person interaction, including mobile ordering and menu tablets, text on arrival for seating, and contactless payment options.
  • Consider methods to make point of sale terminals safer, including use of no contact applications, placement of a glass or clear plastic barrier between the employee and the customer, and providing a hand sanitizer station for customer and employee use after handling credit/debit cards, PIN terminals, or exchange of cash.
  • Servers should avoid touching items on tables while customers are seated. Dedicated staff should remove all items from the table when customer(s) leave.
  • Consider scheduled closure periods throughout the day to allow for cleaning and disinfecting, including bathrooms (i.e., after lunch service).
  • Use separate doors to enter and exit the establishment when possible.
  • When protective equipment such as masks are used, launder daily and wash hands after touching/adjusting the mask while working.
  • Single-use items should be discarded after use. Consider using rolled silverware and eliminating table presets.
  • Consider installing touchless door and sink systems or providing single-use barriers (e.g., deli tissues, paper towels) for use when touching door and sink handles.
  • Implement procedures to increase how often the back-of-house areas are cleaned and sanitized.

Additional Considerations:
Take-out and Delivery providers are encouraged to utilize the following recommendations:

  • Notify customers as the delivery is arriving by text message or phone call.
  • Ensure transport containers are cleaned and sanitized between uses.
  • Establish designated pick-up zones for customers, including separate entrances and exits where possible.
  • Offer curb-side pick-up.
  • Encourage cashless transactions where possible.
  • Practice physical distancing by offering to place orders in vehicle trunks.
  • Seal food packages to safeguard the integrity of contents.
  • If an establishment uses a delivery service, implement a contactless pick-up option where drivers do not have to come into the restaurant.

Food Trucks/Mobile Units are encouraged to utilize the following recommendations:

  • Provide signage and aids to help customers maintain six feet of distance while ordering or waiting for an order.
  • Food and other items should not be returned after they are loaded onto the mobile unit.
  • Schedule frequent cleaning and disinfecting of order pick-up areas and other commonly touched surfaces.