COVID-19: Guidelines for restaurants and other food businesses - King County Skip to main content
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January 6, 2022 update: Boosters

Everyone ages 12 and older should get a booster dose:

  • 5 months after the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna (note: ages 12-17 can only get Pfizer)
  • 2 months after one dose of J&J

The Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are recommended over J&J for both initial and booster vaccinations.

Safe Start for Taverns and Restaurants (SSTAR)

King County's Safe Start for Taverns and Restaurants (SSTAR) program provides education and materials to help restaurants implement state and public health guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It also increases the accountability of food service establishments to abide by the health and safety standards that support a safe reopening.

Safe Reopening

All businesses and organizations can support a safe re-opening. Follow Washington state guidance to protect your employees and customers, with proper indoor air ventilation, vaccination efforts, and mask guidelines. Businesses and other organizations retain the right to require customers and employees wear masks.

If two or more staff members develop confirmed or suspected COVID-19 within a 14-day period, Washington State requires businesses, non-profits, and other organizations to self-report this information to Public Health:

Report COVID-19 cases to Public Health

 Watch the SSTAR Ventilation webinar recorded May 25, 2021

SSTAR Recommendations for Food Establishments

If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, had close contact with someone who has COVID-19, or has COVID-19 symptoms, they should seek testing and follow isolation and quarantine guidance. This guidance applies to workers and visitors in all businesses and industries, including food establishments.
They can also use this calculator tool to find out if you should quarantine or isolate, and for how long.

Check to see if employees have any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 at the start of their shift. Use the COVID-19 employee screening tool below and keep a log that the screening process was followed for all employees.

Employee screening tool:

The Washington State Dept. of Labor & Industries requires employers to provide at no cost appropriate face coverings or masks to their employees.

More information on our masking guidance webpage.

All employees must wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for 20 seconds upon first arriving to work, after using the restroom, before and after eating and frequently throughout the day. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

Provide alcohol based (60%) hand sanitizers for use for both employees and customers by placing them at convenient/accessible locations.

Use sanitizing solution (i.e., one teaspoon of unscented household bleach in a gallon of cool water) to frequently sanitize commonly touched surfaces and objects such as electronics, door knobs, faucet handles, counter tops, cash machine key pads, dining tables at least hourly. Change the sanitizing solution at least once every four hours.

Replace utensils for salad bars and buffets hourly.

Clean and sanitize tables, condiment containers, and menus after every customer.

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).

Ensure sneeze guards are in place where required.

For more information, see guidance for cleaning and disinfecting from the CDC.

Any business or organization can require people to wear masks but must make reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities, as described in the State Health Order on Face Coverings. Masks protect children, people with medical conditions and those who are unvaccinated. They also provide an extra layer of protection for people who are vaccinated.

What should I do if a food worker is diagnosed with COVID-19?

Food businesses must notify Public Health within 24 hours if you suspect COVID is spreading in your workplace or if there are two or more confirmed or suspected cases among your employees in a 14-day period. At this time, food business employers are highly encouraged to report a single cases of COVID-19 among employees to Public Health – Seattle & King County. Report cases online.

More information about what to do if an employee tests positive for COVID-19.

Download posters and materials for your restaurant

We're here to help! If you are a food business owner or a food worker and have questions related to your operation, please reach out to your Health Investigator by calling 206-263-9566 to speak with office staff or email us at:

To file a complaint about a possible unsafe food handling or unsafe COVID-19 practice observation at a King County food establishment, please see

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