TOPEKA – On Thursday, Barton County health officials issued an executive order closing eating establishments to dine-in customers. On Friday, the Kansas Department of Agriculture released guidance regarding the safety of restaurant takeout, drive-through and delivery service during the COVID-19 crisis.
The announcement comes as most restaurants in Barton County and the rest of Kansas have suspended dine-in service due to stay at home orders or transmission concerns. “Kansans are stepping up to help support the restaurant industry at this challenging time by embracing the switch to carryout and delivery,” said Adam Mills of the Kansas Restaurant and Hospitality Association.
“Restaurant owners and employees are pivoting quickly to find solutions,” Mills said. “This guidance from the KDA is important in helping answer common questions and providing comfort during this time.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are not aware of any reports at this time that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging. Food businesses should be following employee health policies and instructing sick employees to stay home.
Below, the KDA addresses frequently asked questions:
What are the risks from takeout or drive-thru food?
• Currently, there is no indication that takeout or drive-through food will increase illness.
• This option is a good risk management choice, especially for high risk and elderly groups because it helps maintain social distancing and reduces the number of touch points.
What are the risks of food delivered to a home?
• Similar to takeout, food delivery helps maintain social distancing and reduces the number of touch points between preparation and serving of food.
• Many delivery programs have also instituted no touch/no interaction options, which further reduces risk.
Can a person get COVID-19 from touching food or packaging exposed to coronavirus?
• Currently, there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19.
• Like other viruses, it is possible that the virus can survive on surfaces or objects, so it is critical to follow safe food handling guidelines and wash your hands (and/or use hand sanitizer) after handling food packaging.