A Quick Reference for Restaurants and Food Service Environments Adapting to COVID-19

Keeping Healthy Employees

Train and remind food service staff every shift about new Covid-19 protocols:

  • Staff should clean their hands often with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol or wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Soap and water is preferred if hands are visibly dirty.
  • No one should touch their face

Self-screen/check for fever and other symptoms before reporting to work

  • List of symptoms of COVID-19 and acute respiratory illness from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Employees should not report to work if they have symptoms, but notify their supervisor and contact a health professional

Print and post reminders about food service and safety protocols based on Covid-19

If you have food employees at higher risk for COVID-19 with underlying health conditions, such as people 60 or older, people with underlying health conditions (heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes) or those with weakened immune systems or those who are pregnant: consider temporarily re-assigning them to non-public-contact duties.

Keeping A Healthy Workplace

Social distancing

  • Keep a physical distance of at least six feet or two meters between staff and customers at all times
  • Stagger work schedules so fewer employees are working at a time
  • Limit number of customers in store at once and keep pick-up curbside
  • Use signage or other visual cues to remind customers and staff of this distance
  • Establish contact-less pay and promote tap and pay
  • Staff should continue standard food service and food safety protocols and wear approved gloves and face coverings if supplies are available.

Promote extra cleaning measures

  • Provide soap and water and/or alcohol-based hand rubs in the workplace for all staff.
  • Provide tissues, paper towels and no-touch disposal receptacles.
  • Sanitize commonly touched surfaces such as keypads, counter tops, sneeze guards, dining tables, doorknobs, electronics, and faucet handles several times daily.
  • Change chlorine-based sanitizing solution at least once every four hours.
  • Ensure dishwasher and/or three-compartment sinks are used properly and have the appropriate level of sanitizer for final rinse (50-100 PPM chlorine-based sanitizer, follow product label for other approved sanitizers).
  • Increase ventilation when possible by opening windows or adjusting air conditioning.

Transitioning To Delivery And Pickup Only

Select an online delivery platform if your business does not yet have one

  • Grubhub (Zero commission fees and community relief fund)
  • DoorDash (Free delivery, zero commission fees for 30 days, and marketing support)
  • UberEats (Free delivery, waived signup fees with fast tracked onboarding for restaurants new to the app)
  • PostMates (Zero commission fees)

Set up a takeout/delivery portion of your website

  • Fisherman is a Boston-based technology company that builds restaurant websites and is offeringfree website services and assistance in setting up takeout/delivery for any restaurant for the next 6 months.  

Customer Engagement

Include a link on your website to your online ordering and pick-up or delivery options

Add your business to the Massachusetts Restaurant Association online listing of establishments offering carry out food:

Update customer-facing (e.g. website, social media accounts, online ordering platforms, and review sites like Yelp) with:

  • Business status (open for curbside pick-up or closed)
  • Current menu
  • Changes to days/hours of operation
  • Customer instructions for ordering/pick-up

Update phone message if leaving information about changed hours or service

Message customers with updates about what actions you’re taking to adjust to Covid-19

  • Tips for restaurants communicating with customers about Covid-19 here

Operations & Finances

Talk with suppliers about necessary adjustments to frequency of orders and deliveries

Implement new delivery protocols for receiving and disinfecting product

Talk with your landlord about possible rent relief

  • Tips for talking with your property manager and negotiating rent (courtesy of CommonWealth Kitchen) are here from Graffio SP

Encourage purchase of gift cards and gift certificates now

Set-up “virtual tip jar” for business and/or workers using Venmo,, etc.

  • Include link to your “virtual tip jar” with all customer facing communications

Consider establishing a Dining Bond Initiative 

Business Assistance

Research eligibility, requirements, and application deadlines for federal, state, local and industry assistance programs. See Financial Resource Guide.

Maintain records of business expenses by week and month to support business assistance applications and track the impacts of COVID-19 on your business (e.g. payroll costs, mortgage or rent payments, insurance, revenue loss).

Apply for eligible assistance.

Consult with organizations serving small business networks in your area (e.g. SBA offices, chamber of commerce, economic development corporation)

Track assistance applications and correspondence.

Local Assistance Programs

Eastern Bank

Restaurant Strong Fund

Food Service Industry Assistance Programs

One Fair Wage

Children of Restaurant Employees [CORE]

Restaurant Opportunities Center [ROC]

Bartender’s Emergency Assistance

Other Assistance Programs

Modest Needs


Facebook Small Business Grants Program

Intuit Small Business Relief Initiative

Additional Resources