URGENT COVID-19 Information - Temporary Closure of Bars, Restaurants, and Other Places of Public Accommodation

food digest

March 19, 2020

In this issue


On March 16, 2020 Governor Walz issued an Emergency Executive Order to temporarily close places where the public congregates, including food and beverage service establishments.

  • The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) created an FAQ document about the Executive Order 20-04 Providing for the Temporary Closure of Bars, Restaurants, and Other Places of Public Accommodation
  • For guidance on food safety for delivery and pick-up services, check out the Minnesota Department of Health's fact sheet

For general information about COVID-19 visit the Minnesota Department of Health's website.

What do I need to do? 

If you have a customer seating area, you need to close it. Bars must be closed.

Can I still serve food?

Yes, you can stay open and serve food, but customers can’t eat in the establishment.

When does this start?

At 5 pm on Tuesday, March 17th

How to get food to your customers safely:

  • Take out
  • Delivery
  • Window service
  • Walk-up service
  • Drive-through service
  • Drive-up service

Use ‘social distancing’

  • Limit face-to-face interactions between staff and customers as much as possible
  • Caution staff to stay 6 feet apart as much as possible


Below is an example of a sign you can print and post at your doors and around your establishment:




Options for preventing perishable food from going to waste


Many in the hospitality industry may find themselves with perishable food that may go to waste as restrictions on food service establishments are enacted across the county. If you don’t have staff to distribute the food to, consider contacting Second Harvest Heartland or Loaves and Fishes to donate the food to those in need.

Second Harvest Heartland has two initiatives – Minnesota’s Central Kitchen and Meal Connect that utilize and redistribute perishable food. Minnesota’s Central Kitchen is a new partnership that is cooking meals for those in need at unused kitchen sites, while Meal Connect is an online platform that connects caterers, special event centers, restaurants, corporate cafeterias and other commercial food preparers in a convenient, free and safe way to outlets that serve those in need. Loaves and Fishes also accepts food donations through Meal Connect. To learn more visit Second Harvest Heartland and Loaves and Fishes.

If you wish to donate your time, food, or materials, please refer to the contact information listed below:

  • Food operators with excess perishable product available should visit www.MealConnect.org to create an account and post their product as a donation; we have the transportation logistics in place to collect and deliver to a partner kitchen.
  • Food service professionals who want to volunteer their time and cooking expertise should express their interest with an email to volunteer@chowgirls.net.
  • Businesses that want to donate packaging, cleaning/sanitizing supplies and other non-food items should email donations@chowgirls.net.
  • Restaurants who are interested in opening their kitchen up as partner kitchen should email ejpaul9@gmail.com.

Disinfecting surfaces and sick food workers

The CDC has offered guidance for disinfecting surfaces; the following is taken from their website:

"If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent and water prior to disinfection. For disinfection, a list of products with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved emerging viral pathogens claims, maintained by the American Chemistry Council Center for Biocide Chemistries (CBC), is available at Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Fighting Products. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products."  

Remember that food contact surfaces have special requirements for the kinds of sanitizers that can be used in these areas. The following is stated in the Minnesota Food Code:

4626.1620 SANITIZERS; CRITERIA. 7-204.11
Chemical sanitizers, including chemical sanitizing solutions generated on site and other chemical antimicrobials applied to food-contact surfaces, must meet the requirements in Code of Federal Regulations, title 40, part 180, subpart D,section 180.940, or part 180, subpart E,section 180.2020.


Sick employees

  • All of the normal employee illness requirements for reporting and exclusions apply. See Illness Reporting for Food Establishments (PDF).
  • Employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness should stay home and not come to work until they are free of fever (100.4°F.or greater using an oral thermometer), signs of a fever, cough, and any other symptoms for at least 7 days, and 3 days without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines such as cough suppressants.
  • FDA has provided additional guidance about employees with fevers and respiratory illness on their website Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Frequently Asked Questions

Food Safety Day events canceled

Hennepin County is following COVID-19 guidance from MDH about canceling and postponing events. In light of this, the Food Safety Day event scheduled for April 9 is canceled. We will provide updates about future planned events, including virtual options, as needed moving forward. Check back on our website (www.hennepin.us/envhealth) for future event postings.

Web resources

Visit hennepin.us/envhealth for information on:

  • General environmental health 
  • Basic food safety classes 
  • Temporary food stand licensing 
  • Food license information, categories, and fee schedule 
  • New construction or remodeling application 

Radon information and test kits


Septic system requirements and procedures


Body art licensing information (tattooing and piercing)


Beaches in Hennepin County


Public swimming pool regulations


About us

Food Digest is a quarterly newsletter written by inspectors from Hennepin
County Public Health Department, and designed to support and educate Hennepin County food facility owners and operators. Articles focus on food
safety and requirements from the Minnesota Food Code and Hennepin County food ordinance.


1011 First Street S, Suite 215
Hopkins, MN 55343-9413

8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


Past issues

Previous issues of Food digest available in our archive.

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Hannah Marschinke


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