New Training Program Aims To Protects Diners, Restaurant Staff

May 20, 2020

File photo of tables sitting vacant and pollen-covered at Kabab and Curry, a restaurant on Hillsborough Street during the coronavirus pandemic in Raleigh, N.C. on Sunday, March 22, 2020.
Credit Ben McKeown / For WUNC

With the state considering whether to allow dining in restaurants again as soon as this weekend, the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association has unveiled a new training program aimed at protecting diners and restaurant staff from the coronavirus.

The association worked with state health and tourism officials and experts at N.C. State Extension Service to develop "Count on Me NC,"  a program that will offer assurance that certified restaurants are using science-based safety practices to keep patrons and staff safe.

Restaurants that opt for the training, which is free, will get window stickers and a certificate to display, and can use the program logo in their marketing.

“Customers we think will appreciate the commitment these businesses are making to go above and beyond what's required,” said Lynn Minges, the association president.

Even after the state restrictions are lifted, many patrons will likely be skeptical of eating in restaurants.

The training focuses on specific strategies including health screening for employees, social distancing, and approaches to using masks, hand washing and hand sanitizing for employees and customers.

Also in the works is training for hotel and motel workers.