Q & A with DOH

Questions from restaurateurs that I had asked the DoH for an answer

1. “seated together”can mean at the same table but doesn’t necessarily mean “seated at the same time”. I’m interested I knowing if the whole party must be present to be seated. “Seated together” will mean at the same table. The whole party does not need to be seated at the same time as far as DOH is concerned.  Does this go for bar areas as well?   Yes.

2. regarding the 7 day expiration date on prepared foods – some items such as non-phf sauces like house made BBQ sauce or flavored mayos – they are frequently are made in batches, and are good past that 7 days.

With the slower business level, restaurant have adjusted their production levels, but there are still some foods that are not used in the 7 days. Do these items need to be discarded after 7 days?

Food safety regulations do not change because business is slower – 7 day date marking will still be enforced for applicable foods.

3. For a restaurant that is very open to outdoors – doors and windows that open to the street and lanai – buth as a door in the food area that leads to an outside storage area that is always kept open – do they need to have a screen on that back door or keep it closed? they do not have a fly issue.

The food should be as protected as possible, so a screen would be acceptable or the door must remain closed.  This establishment should work directly with their inspector on finding the best solution.

4. If an employee is diagnosed with covid, what is the contact info at your offices?

All covid cases must be reported to DOH Disease Investigation Branch at 586-4586.

4a. Is that restaurant required to shut down, or have other staff tested or quarantined? Any other procedures recommended?  

The Disease Investigation Branch will determine whether an establishment must close.  Some additional info can be found here

: https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-during-emergencies/what-do-if-you-have-covid-19-confirmed-positive-worker-or-workers-who-have-been-exposed-confirmed

Cleaning and sanitizing must be completed:  https://health.hawaii.gov/san/files/2020/03/COVID-19-FAQs-for-Food-Establishments-Rev.3-19-2020.pdf page
2 of 3 specifically addresses EPA approved sanitizers.

5. If a 4 top was sat, then 2 more (not from same household) wanted to join them, do they need to all walk outside, then get resat as the larger group? How about if the group is 6, but only 4 to start, with the other 2 joining later?

DOH allows a maximum of 6 individuals to be seated

6. A restaurant that has tight seating, but would like to add more available tables is looking to use these partitions in the photos. I would advise the tape or otherwise seal the gap in between the partitions.

Vertical barriers can be used as an alternative to 6 feet separation, but they would still be limited to 50% occupancy.  We do not have dimension requirements for barriers, so it would be inspectors’ call.  In my opinion, these barriers are insufficient due to the limited width.  I recommend they work directly with their inspector before construction and implementation of the barriers.

7. From the FDA guidance:

Are sufficient stocks of single service and single use article (e.g. tableware, carryout utensils, bread wrappers, and plastic wrap) available? If not, ensure all reusable food service items are handled with gloves and washed with dish soap and hot water or in a dishwasher. Employees should wash their hands after removing heir gloves, and after directly handling used food service items.

We had interpreted this as any clean plates, utensils, glassware, that are meant to be washed and resused, must be handled with clean gloves.  This means that cooks and dining room staff who touch clean plates, utensils, glassware must be handled with gloves.
Is our interpretation correct?  we don’t use disposable tableware for the
guest, with the exception of plastic cups with lids and a straw, generally
given to children

Your interpretation is correct.  This would be a recommendation for handling cleaned food contact surfaces.

8. if there is a customer covid complaint that is investigated, and then closed by the inspector, does that count as a first warning that would lead to a Red placard if there is another complaint, or the same issue was observed in a regular Food Safety inspection?

Possibly. Repeated violations will lead to a red placard.


How does the COVID placarding work?

The COVID inspection is performed
during a regular Food Safety Inspection. If any violations are observed, the
manager will be notified, and will need to have them corrected upon the
inspector’s re-visit. If they are not corrected, they may post the Red placard
at the door, (shutting you down) until the violations are corrected.

There will not be a Yellow placard given for COVID deficiencies, and there will not be a inspection specifically for COVID – except – if the DoH receives a customer complaint, there may be a stand-alone DoH investigation (PLEASE SEE QUESTION #1 ABOVE)

mock up of the partition. More would be in place if used.