The Virgin Islands Department of Health, Division of Environmental Health advises all Retail Food Service Establishments

St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands — The Virgin Islands Department of Health, Division of Environmental Health advises all Retail Food Service Establishments that it will suspend enforcement on the non-compliance of using single-service tableware until June 22, 2020. This postponement is being taken so that retail food service establishments in the territory have sufficient time to procure single-service tableware.

In the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s 'Best Practices for Reopening Retail Food Establishments during the COVD-19 Pandemic Food Safety Checklist', CDC strongly recommends the use of single-service and single-use articles (i.e., biodegradable plate and carryout containers, paper plates, plastic utensils, etc.) to decrease the spread of COVID-19. 

In the meanwhile, all establishments should ensure that all reusable food service items are washed and sanitized with dish soap and hot water or in a mechanical dishwasher (see our three-compartment sink factsheet for additional guidance). All washed and sanitized reusable food service items must be handled with cleaned, washed hands.  

Restaurants and bars may consider several implementing strategies to maintain healthy environments. Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces (e.g., door handles, cash registers, workstations, sink handles, bathroom stalls) at least daily, or as much as possible and as required by food safety requirements. Clean shared objects (e.g., payment terminals, tables, countertops/bars, receipt trays, condiment holders) between each use.

If immersion in hot water is used for sanitizing cookware in a manual operation, the temperature of the water should be maintained at 77oC (171oF) or above. In contrast, the temperature of the wash solution in manual ware washing equipment should be kept at not less than 43oC (110oF) or the temperature specified on the cleaning agent manufacturer's label instructions.

When using a chemical sanitizer in a solution for manual or mechanical operation, A chlorine solution has a minimum temperature based on the concentration and PH of the solution, as listed in the following chart.

Concentration Range (MG/L)

Minimum Temperature PH 10 or less °C (°F)

Minimum Temperature PH 8 or less °C (°F)

25 – 49

49 (120)

49 (120)

50 – 99

38 (100)

24 (75)

100

13 (55)

13 (55)

 

To protect consumers and staff, limit the number of customers in the restaurant to 50% of seating capacity not to exceed 50 people. Tables should be spaced at least 6 feet apart and should be limited to no more than 6 guests per tableMark any indoor or outdoor waiting area so that social distancing standards are met (options can include a text system to alert guests of available seating, an intercom system, or only one member of a party being allowed to wait in the waiting area). 

Reservations are highly recommended as they allow for proper screening of patrons and can assist the Department of Health's Epidemiology team with contact tracing efforts if a positive case is traced back to a restaurant. When taking a reservation, a name and phone number should be required. The following screening questions will decrease the risk of a sick person entering an establishment: 

  • Have you been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19? 
  • Are you experiencing a cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat? 
  • Have you had a fever in the last 48 hours? 

 

The best practice is to screen customers for illness upon their entry into the restaurant by performing temperature checks for every customer in addition to the screening questions above. Customers with temperatures above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit should not be permitted on-premise.

Masks or facial coverings should be worn by all patrons and should be worn at all times except when eating or drinking. Patrons should wear facial coverings when they leave their seats or when they are waiting for food or drinks. 

Masks or facial coverings should be worn by ALL staff. Shields without coverings over the nose and mouth are not allowed. Shields are not to be worn alone. 

 To avoid COVID-19 and help prevent its spread, Department of Health officials recommend the following steps:

 

  • Limit socializing and close contact with others, as persons without symptoms can still transmit the virus.
  • While sick, avoid contact with others.
  • Avoid persons with cold or flu-like symptoms.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and discard the tissue. Wash your hands immediately. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not
  • available, use an alcohol-based hand rub with at least 60 percent alcohol.

If you are experiencing symptoms like a cough, fever, chills, or shortness of breath, you have traveled anywhere in the last 14 days, OR have had contact with a confirmed case, please self-quarantine and call (340) 712-6299 or (340) 776-1519 from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

For more information regarding bar and restaurant guidelines, contact the Division of Environmental Health Services on St. Croix at 340-718-1311 ext. 3707 or St. Thomas/St. John at 340-774-9000 ext. 4642.