Gov. Jay Inslee issued new guidance allowing the resumption of self-service buffets, salad bars, salsa bars, drink stations and other types of communal food sources in Phase 2. File photo

Gov. Jay Inslee issued new guidance allowing the resumption of self-service buffets, salad bars, salsa bars, drink stations and other types of communal food sources in Phase 2. File photo

Buffets and salad bars back on the menu in King County

Gov. Jay Inslee has revised rules to allow self-serve food areas in Phase 2 of the state’s reopening.

Buffets and salad bars are back on the menu for restaurants and bars in King County.

But it could be a while before any bands perform live in those establishments.

On Monday, Gov. Jay Inslee quietly issued new guidance allowing the resumption of self-service buffets, salad bars, salsa bars, drink stations and other types of communal food sources in Phase 2 of the state’s four-stage reopening scheme. Those dining options had previously been barred until Phase 3.

Seventeen of the state’s 39 counties are in Phase 2 and have been for weeks. Another 17 are in Phase 3. Five counties are still in Phase 1.

Under the new guidance, restaurant operators will need to install permanent barriers, like sneeze guards, to protect food. Once buffets and salad bars are restarted, operators must be able to ensure customers use hand sanitizer before and after handling any serving utensil.

And employees are going to have to continually monitor the food and beverage stations to make sure patrons are abiding the rules and maintaining physical distancing, according to the written guidance.

All other requirements for restaurants and bars, such as wearing face of coverings by employees and their customers when they aren’t eating, still apply and must be enforced.

Anthony Anton, president and CEO of the Washington Hospitality Association, said the organization had been working with the state Department of Health to clarify guidance for buffet-style operations.

“Our restaurant operators are willing, capable and committed to keeping our guests, employees and communities safe,” he said in a statement. “We are seeking to earn trust by demonstrating compliance and commitment in all phases so we can reopen and stay open.”

Another change formalized this week prohibits seating at bar counters and live entertainment in the second and third phases of reopening.

Originally, both had been permitted in counties that had reached Phase 3. But a recent surge in coronavirus cases among young adults in the state and scenes of packed bars in other states, where the virus is spreading even more rapidly, stirred Inslee to step in and impose the restrictions.

“We just can’t have people mingling shoulder to shoulder,” Inslee said. “We don’t want to learn the lessons of other states.”

Also Monday, Inslee extended through Aug. 1 restrictions on visitors to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. The state Department of Social and Health Services is reportedly working on a plan to enable those facilities to once again welcome visitors.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@rentonreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.rentonreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

Police vehicle damaged after collision (Photo Credit: Renton Police Department)
Renton Police still looking to arrest suspect after officer involved hit and run

RPD spokesperson said suspect fled on foot after causing officer’s injury.

Teaser
Renton officials, police respond to racist snowball incident

Renton Mayor Armondo Pavone and City Council President Randy Corman issued a… Continue reading

In Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s reopening plan, which was announced Jan. 28, restaurants can reopen at a maximum 25% capacity and a limit of six people per table. Inslee recently announced all counties will be staying in Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan for the next several weeks. Pictured: People enjoy outdoor dining last summer in downtown Kent. Courtesy photo
Inslee: All of Washington to stay in Phase 2 for a few weeks

The governor issued a weekslong pause on regions moving backward, but has yet to outline a Phase 3.

Entrance to the Tukwila Library branch of the King County Library System. File photo
King County libraries will reopen in some cities for in-person services

Fall City, Kent libraries among six selected for partial reopening.

Judge Kara Murphy Richards (photo credit: City of Renton)
Renton to implement alternative to jail for low-level offenders

Community court aims to mitigate the underlying factors that lead people to crime.

Best of Renton 2021 is sponsored by the Renton Chamber of Commerce and the Renton Reporter.
Best of Renton 2021 winners announced

Program is sponsored by the Renton Chamber of Commerce and the Renton Reporter.

The suspected car thief and kidnapper (photo credit: Renton Police Department)
RPD searching for kidnapping suspect after finding the stolen child

The incident triggered an amber alert yesterday (Feb. 24)

t
Kent teen charged with murder of teen during gun exchange

Two Renton teens also charged in September shooting in Kirkland

A South King Fire & Rescue firefighter places a used test swab into a secure COVID test vial on Nov. 18, 2020, at a Federal Way testing site. (Sound Publishing file photo)
Masks are still king in combating new COVID strains

A top UW doctor talks new strains, masks and when normal could return.

Most Read