Officials in one Massachusetts town are enforcing stricter rules for restaurants in order to better protect workers and customers amid the coronavirus crisis as the state prepares for an expected surge in cases.
As of Wednesday morning, 80 Brookline residents had tested positive for COVID-19.
The new guidance issued by the town's Department of Public Health includes face mask protection for both employees and customers. Officials also say staff must undergo a daily temperature reading, and they're encouraging curbside pickup to minimize contact.
The following guidelines, effective April 7, apply to all Brookline food establishments that were deemed essential under Gov. Charlie Baker's order:
- All staff must wear protective face covering, gloves and eye protection
- All establishments are required to install temporary Plexiglas type barriers at customer service counter areas
- Customers must wear protective face covering while inside establishments
- All entry doors must be posted – advising customers that face covering and social distancing (six foot separation) must be maintained inside and outside the establishment. This must be supervised and enforced by staff.
- Establishments must be vigilant about any employee illness by 1) Continuing to ask if workers have been exposed to COVID-19, 2) Ensuring employees don’t come to work while ill, and 3) Taking employees temperatures at the start of each work shift. This must be done on a daily basis and it must be recorded.
For establishments that are offering takeout service, the Department of Public Health is requesting they transition to a "contact free" method of sales in order to minimize contact. This involves the following:
- Having customers order and pay online or over the phone
- Placing food products in a pickup location at the entry area of the establishment
- Offering curbside pickup an option
The Brookline DPH also says it has continued to receive calls from customers who are concerned about delivery drivers not following barrier protection and sanitary service protocols.
As such, health officials say food service delivery drivers and delivery service companies must implement the following practices:
- Advise customers they will be conducting a "contact free" delivery
- Take full payment, including tip, online or over the phone
- Receive directions for where the customer wants their food placed, whether that's on the steps, by the garage, in the mailbox, etc.
- Delivery staff must wear protective mask, gloves and eye protection during delivery service to the customer
- Delivery packaging must stay closed and sealed. The delivery must be denied if the delivery package seal has been compromised
- All pens, swipe card devices, portable delivery holding/warming units must be wiped down with a sanitizing wipe or solution before and after each delivery
Brookline borders six of Boston's neighborhoods, which saw new, more stringent social distancing guidelines go into effect Monday.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said Tuesday that coronavirus cases in the city have increased by 33% over a three-day period, but warned that the surge is only beginning.
Continuing Coronavirus Coverage
Last week, Gov. Baker said Massachusetts was expecting as many as 172,000 coronavirus cases, with a potential peak in hospitalizations between April 10 and April 20.
Nearly 100 new deaths and 1,364 new COVID-19 cases were announced Tuesday by the state's Department of Public Health, bringing the state's total number of coronavirus cases to 15,202 and deaths to 356.