While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has addressed the need for good ventilation in its guidance about keeping indoor spaces safe from the coronavirus, overhauling ventilation systems isn’t typically at the top of the list of actions restaurant operators are taking to make their facilities safer right now. There are likely good reasons for that: For one, the challenging economic climate makes it difficult to fathom making a significant investment in an HVAC update. But what if there were more cost-effective ways to improve the air quality in your restaurant? Regular system inspections and maintenance, attention to cleaning products and protocols, and the reconfiguring of your kitchen and dining room can all help.
National Restaurant Associations updated COVID-19 SAFE OPERATING GUIDANCE
Consider modifying layouts, adding physical barriers and procedures for social distancing (sneeze guards and partitions, particularly in areas where it’s difficult for individuals to remain apart), and physical guides (including tape on floors or sidewalks, and signage)
The question of air circulation and aerosol transmission of the virus is still being studied. While the issue has yet to be settled to-date, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommends that every restaurant follow these steps to maintain good restaurant ventilation:
Make sure you have regular HVAC preventative maintenance inspections and complete needed repairs.
Conduct a test & balance of the restaurant’s ventilation system every 3-5 years and adjust and repair as needed.
Verify that the make-up air unit is operating properly (if one is used).
Verify that a rooftop unit’s (RTU) outdoor air economizers and dampers are operating properly.
Verify that RTU filters, coils, drain pans, and fan blades are clean and in good working order.
Verify that the RTU fans are in “ON” mode and operating during all operating hours.
Verify that the restaurant temperature, humidity, and other RTU settings are appropriate to avoid high humidity and condensation indoors.
If there are questions about the HVAC system, its operation, and/or the restaurant’s air balance, engage a trained professional. Note that, as we learn more about the role air circulation plays in COVID-19 transmission we might see specific requirements for additional controls, such as specific types of filters or air disinfection systems. However, no additional control will be effective if the steps above are not followed.
Information here is taken directly from the National Restaurant Associations updated COVID-19 SAFE OPERATING GUIDANCE
Foodservice CEO is provided for informational purposes only. It is intended to offer foodservice operators’ guidance regarding best practices in running their operations. Adherence to any recommendations included in this Guidance will not ensure a successful operation in every situation. Furthermore, the recommendations contained in this website should not be interpreted as setting a standard of operation or be deemed inclusive of all methods of operating nor exclusive of other methods of operating.
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