COVID has changed a lot within the restaurant world. As of 2022, there are many new laws and regulations.
Recent Health Regulations
With the recent new variant and surge in COVID cases, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a new standard to employers with 100 or more employees as of November 5, 2021. First, vaccination is strongly encouraged to protect unvaccinated employees from the risk of COVID-19 infection. Next, employers must establish a COVID-19 vaccination policy for all employees. Each employer could approve a policy offering their staff to either get vaccinated or have regular COVID-19 tests and wear a face covering while at work. This new standard requires restaurants to implement these safety measures.
While OSHA’s new standard applies to all restaurants covered under their jurisdiction, other changes for 2022 have been mandated in individual states.
State Food and Health Laws
In Texas, the legislature approved a bill for on-premise restaurants with a wine and malt beverage retailer’s permit to be issued a food and beverage certificate by the commission if the receipts from alcoholic beverages at that location are 60 percent or less of total receipts. This does not apply to food concessions in sports stadiums or convention centers. It applies to a permittee that operates its own permanent food service facility with commercial cooking equipment on its premises. Economically, serving alcohol may be a wise choice to bolster sales in the face of these restaurant regulations.
A new law about food delivery apps has been amended in the Business and Professions Code in California. In the state, it is now unlawful for a food delivery platform such as DoorDash or Uber Eats to accept tips and gratuity intended for restaurant workers. Food delivery platforms must be transparent and disclose an accurate, clearly marked, and itemized cost breakdown of each transaction. This breakdown is to be provided to the customer and the food facility to regulate the growing app-based food-delivery industry and ensure the employees of restaurants receive the tips intended for them.
In New York, a 2022 vaccination mandate has been passed. Anyone who wants to work or attend any restaurant establishment in the state must now show acceptable proof of vaccination. This includes documented evidence of completed vaccination at least two weeks before the visit. Any person 12 years of age or older must produce either a CDC vaccine card, a photocopy or digital photo of their vaccination record, or an uploaded image of the vaccination record on an approved mobile application such as NYC COVID Safe App, Clear Health Pass, or Excelsior Pass. Children ages 5-11 must be vaccinated with at least one dose of a COVID vaccine to visit restaurants and other places of business.
In Chicago, restaurants are only able to provide customers plastic utensils, napkins, and similar items upon request. This 2022 local law does not apply to drive-thrus, airports, charity food giveaways, and self-service stations. The ordinance is one of several ongoing legal regulations aimed at reducing waste of single-use plastics in city restaurants.
According to Food Safety News, 45 bills related to food freedom were introduced – 9 of which were enacted into law. The majority of these bills loosen the regulations imposed on both producers and consumers. In South Carolina, SB 506 (Act No. 208) passed and amended the home-based food production law, allowing non-potentially hazardous food to be sold online or via mail-order directly to retail stores and consumers. In Maryland, the annual cap on revenue for cottage food product operations was raised to $50,000. In Tennessee, the state legislature enacted two laws, which shall allow vendors of homemade food to sell without licenses or permits. The purpose of these state regulations is to enhance the freedom of consumers to access homemade foods and foster small business growth. The Georgia state legislature enacted the Georgia Raw Dairy Act. The Indiana state legislature enacted a bill that allows the sale of poultry, eggs, and rabbit by any individual vendor or business that has the proper farmers’ market permit.
There are more restaurant laws and regulations to be aware of for 2022. Whether you are business owner, employee, or guest, you should make themselves aware of these new changes in state law and local public health ordinances. Regulations in the food service industry are always changing. Your business can stay one step ahead of your public heath department by implementing top-notch food handler training and staying current with the latest in food service sanitation. Follow Synergy on social media and explore our online resources to discover the latest restaurant news developments and tips of the trade.