Food Premises Guidance
Starting October 5, 2021, food premises and licensed premises (indoor and patio dining), including restaurants, cafes, bars, liquor tasting rooms in wineries, breweries and distilleries are required to verify a patron’s proof of vaccination for access to their venue or setting. This excludes people coming in to purchase take-out or to use the washroom.
You must verify that individuals 12 years of age and older are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by checking their government-issued vaccination record.
The requirement to verify proof of COVID-19 vaccination is a temporary measure until the risk of COVID-19 to PEI residents is reduced. Failure to follow this Public Health Order may result in a fine.
With a proof of vaccination now in place, the maximum seating capacity for all food premises is 200 patrons indoors and 400 patrons outdoors, unless approved for an additional cohort(s).
All businesses and organizations operating during the COVID-19 pandemic are required to have an operational plan. Make sure all employees are familiar with the contents of the operational plan.
The preventive measures required in the operational plan require operators to:
- Take every reasonable step to ensure minimal interaction of employees within two metres (six feet) of each other.
- Take every reasonable step necessary to prevent employees who are required to self-isolate from entering workplaces.
- Develop and follow an exclusion policy that ensures symptomatic employees are immediately excluded from work activities.
- Ensure enhanced cleaning and disinfection of shared areas and surfaces.
- Ensure hand washing stations or hand sanitizing products are available.
- Take every reasonable step to prevent interactions between multiple cohorts/gatherings (if applicable).
- Singing is permitted, with physical distancing between the singers and patrons.
- Rearrange waiting areas – consider things like removing chairs and benches, asking patrons to wait outside for a table, posting signs, stanchions, tape on floor, etc. to promote physical distancing.
- Create separate take-out and dine-in protocols. Take-out customers are not required to show proof of vaccination. Physical distancing must be maintained among patrons in the areas available to take-out customers. Designate a door or path separate from dine-in patrons for payment and/or pickup, if possible. Introduce clear signage (e.g. floor markers) for take-out versus dine-in, and for entrances and exits into the food premises.
- Ensure a two metre (six feet) physical distance between workers and patrons.
- Provide a temporary handwash station or hand sanitizer, with signage, at the door for patrons to use when they enter the restaurant.
- Consider limiting the number of individuals permitted inside washrooms to encourage physical distancing in washrooms.
- Washroom sanitation must be enhanced.
- Manage break times and schedules (stagger) to support maintaining physical distances between staff members.
- Consider creating cohorts of staff members who work together and who do not interact with other cohorts. This will assist in reducing transmission throughout the workplace and with contact tracing in the event that a staff member becomes ill.
- Provide signage and guidance to patrons regarding physical distancing, not entering the food premises if they are ill and other messaging related to COVID-19 guidance.
- Encourage contactless payment.
- Consider controlling access to the dining room by having patrons wait to be seated.
- Avoid touching water glasses and/or coffee cups when refilling.
- If patrons ask to take unfinished food with them, provide the packaging and let the patron put the food into the container.
- Consider use digital menu boards, large chalkboards, or online pre-ordering alternatives instead of traditional menus, single-use disposable menus or reusable menus that can be cleaned and disinfected between patrons.
- If there is customer seating at the bar, and physical distancing cannot be maintained between the seated customers and staff work stations, a physical barrier is required.
- Table service is required for alcoholic drinks.
- Self-serve buffets are not permitted at this time.
- Served buffets are permitted, provided:
- individuals wear a non-medical mask,
- congestion and mixing at the served buffet is minimized (e.g. one group/table at a time), and
- the line-up is 6 ft away from any individuals seated or otherwise partaking in the gathering,
- those in the line-up are six feet from the food, or there is a sneeze guard in place or food items are wrapped,
- the server frequently practices hand hygiene, wears a non-medical mask, and is screened for symptoms of COVID-19,
- self serve food or non-alcoholic drink stations are permitted, provided:
- food items are individually wrapped,
- hand washing facilities or alcohol-based sanitizers are within easy reach of the station,
- the stations are supervised,
- signs are posted at the self-serve station, to remind people to wash or sanitize their hands before touching self-serve food, drink or other items, and to maintain a two metre distance from other patrons,
- any high touch surfaces are frequently cleaned and disinfected,
- congestion at the station is minimized (e.g. one group/table at a time), and people serving themselves wear a non-medical mask.
- Limit the number of staff members in a food preparation area at any one time.
- Consider designating staff members to certain areas of the kitchen to ensure physical distancing requirements can be maintained.
- Where physical distancing between workspaces is not possible, kitchen staff are recommended to wear non-medical masks. Also, consider the use of physical barriers made of non-porous materials such as plexiglass. Prior to installing physical barriers, contact the necessary departments (e.g. Charlottetown or Summerside Fire Inspection Services, Fire Marshal’s Office, Worker’s Compensation Board) to ensure it meets their requirements.
- Establish directional arrows on the floor in kitchen settings to control flow of traffic and reduce interaction between cooking and clearing areas.
- When applicable, clearly mark exit and entrance doors from kitchen to service area to avoid interaction between food being served and dishes being cleared.
- Restrict access into the food preparation area by delivery agents and members of the public and other staff members.
- As much as possible, cooks and chefs should use their own high-use tools such as knives.
- Stagger start times for food delivery drivers to prevent crowding at restaurant dispatch locations.
- Drop off packages at the door or outside buildings; call ahead and/or text instructions so the delivery driver is aware of any site requirements and the customer can be ready to accept the delivery.
- Adjust practices for proof of delivery so that in-person signatures are avoided and online confirmation of receipt of package can be used instead.
Cleaning and Hygiene
- Develop and establish hand hygiene policies and procedures for all staff members. Post handwashing signs near all sinks.
- Establish hygiene practices that address the needs of the workplace.
- Have hand sanitizer (with 60-80% alcohol) available to patrons and staff members (including in delivery vehicles). Install additional dispensers as needed.
- Clarify procedures for cleaning staff areas and train accordingly.
- Follow the written sanitation plan for the premises.
- Enhance cleaning of all frequent touchpoints and shared equipment is required. This includes, but is not limited to: walls, tables, chairs, barstools, coasters, condiments, coat hooks, restrooms, POS terminals, debit machines, door/equipment handles/knobs, breakrooms, etc.
- Tables, vinyl or laminated menus, and seats should be cleaned and sanitized when tables turn.
- Remove salt and pepper shakers, sauce dispensers, candles, and other table top items or sanitize between sittings. Consider single-use options.
- Install touch-free soap and paper towel dispensers in washrooms, if possible.
- Ensure staff are provided with appropriate supplies, such as soap and water, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes.
- Ensure shared vehicles for delivery are included in your cleaning protocol, including a disinfectant wipe down of all touch points (e.g., door handles, steering wheels, portable debit machines, seats, windows, stairs, handrails, elevator buttons, door handles, garbage handles, seats, phones).
What are the mask requirements?
As of September 17, 2021, masks are mandatory in all enclosed public spaces in Prince Edward Island. For general questions and answers on the new mask requirements, please visit: Wearing Non-Medical Masks in the Community.
Should my operational plan be updated to include mask requirements?
Businesses and operators are encouraged to update their operational plans to include the requirement for masks on the premises. Submission of these plans, however, is not necessary.
Are customers required to wear masks when seated in restaurants, liquor licensed establishments and other locations where food and beverages are being served?
You are required to wear a mask at all times when in a public place. You do not need to wear a mask when consuming food or a beverage in a public place.
As an owner, am I responsible for providing masks for customers?
No, but you may wish to have a supply of disposable, non-medical masks available for customers that are willing to wear a mask but don’t have one.
What do I do if a customer claims to be medically exempt from wearing a mask?
Employees are not expected to ask for proof of a medical exemption. The customer should avoid wandering through the facility unnecessarily and should avoid interaction with individuals outside of their party as much as possible.
What if a customer refuses to wear a mask?
Employees who meet customers at the door should remind them of the requirement to wear masks. If the customer still refuses, they can be allowed in the facility without repercussions to the business or employee(s).
Is it okay for a server to provide service to a table (refill drinks, clear dishes, etc.) when customers are not wearing masks?
The more time a server spends at a table where customers are not wearing masks, the higher the risk to the server. Any service required should be completed quickly while maintaining as much distance as possible. It is recommended that drink refills be completed with a new glass or cup instead of refilling those at the table. This will help limit the time the server is required to be at the table. Where possible, consider an in-house policy for dirty dishes to remain on the table until all customers have left the table or have the customers place dirty dishes at the end of the table so a quick pick up can be completed by the server.
Are masks required at the cash if there is a physical barrier in place?
Yes, masks are still required. Masks are an important layer of protection, but not a first line of defense.
Can employees wear a face shield instead of a face mask?
No. Alternatives—including face shields, spit guards, gaiters, scarves—are not as effective at preventing the transmission of viruses as non-medical masks. Face shields and spit guards do not effectively contain respiratory droplets. Neck gaiters and scarves aren't well secured to the head or ears, and are difficult to remove without contaminating your hands and/or face.
Do employees have to wear their masks for their entire shift?
Employees are expected to wear face masks when in the public facing areas of the facility. If there is a time during their shift when they are not in the public areas (e.g. break), they can remove their mask. It is important that all staff are educated on the proper way to put on and remove a mask and how to store a mask when not being used to prevent contamination. Additional information can be found at: Wearing Non-Medical Masks in the Community.
Can a mask be worn when it becomes damp?
Employees should be encouraged to have multiple masks with them each day. Once a mask becomes damp, it should be changed for a clean, dry one.
Are kitchen (back of house) staff required to wear masks?
Kitchen staff are not required to wear a mask while working in the back of house. If kitchen staff enter public facing areas (dining room, washrooms, etc.), they must wear a mask.
If front of house staff have to enter the kitchen for part of their job, are they able to remove their mask when performing these tasks?
All staff, when working in the kitchen or back-of-house, outside public facing areas of the facility, are not required to wear a mask as long as requirements for physical distancing are being followed. If serving staff are quickly entering the kitchen and leaving again (to pick up food for a table, to get a take-out container, etc.), then it is best they keep their mask on.
Are staff in a food truck required to wear masks?
Staff who prepare and/or serve food and beverages from a food truck are required to wear masks given the challenges posed by the small space and the inability to consistently physical distance from other staff.
Are bar staff required to wear a mask?
Yes, bar staff are required to wear a face mask when in pubic facing areas of the facility.
Are masks required for delivery persons, inspectors, service technicians, etc. who enter my restaurant?
Yes, anyone entering the facility and potentially interacting with employees and/or customers is required to wear a face mask.
Are masks required for staff who deliver take-out orders to vehicles in the parking lot?
It is best practice for employees to wear masks when providing curb-side pick-up.
When the restaurant is closed to the public, are employees required to wear masks?
If they are able to maintain physical distancing from other employees, a face mask would not be required as long as the facility is closed to the public.
Are we required to post signs about mandatory masks?
A business operator is expected and required in the Public Health Order to do everything in their power to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in their facility. Part of this includes posting informational signs for employees and customers. A Face Mask Required poster is available at: Wearing Non-Medical Masks in the Community.
Are face masks considered the same as an apron? Do I remove it to use the washroom?
Face masks are required when walking to and from the washroom. They should also be worn when inside the washroom in case of possible interaction with other individuals. The risk of contamination of a face mask in this setting is low. Employees should be reminded about the importance of proper hand hygiene before removing or putting on their face mask and about proper hand washing after using the washroom.