by Molly Kelly, Enology Extension Educator

In blog post #1 (June 29th) Penn State Extension covered current COVID-19 state guidelines for the reopening of Pennsylvania tasting rooms. In the second post (July 13th) we covered federal guidelines of general best practices related to the reopening of tasting rooms and COVID-19 drawn from guidance by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), US Department of Labor, American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

These agencies offer considerations for ways in which operators can protect employees, customers, and communities and slow the spread of COVID-19. These considerations are meant to supplement—not replace—any state, local, territorial, or tribal health and safety laws, rules, and regulations with which businesses must comply.

In this third and final post we will discuss additional federal guidelines to more safely open tasting rooms.


Make sure ventilation systems are operating properly and increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible (ex: open windows/doors, prioritize outdoor seating).
Do not open windows/doors if doing so poses a safety or health risk (ex: fall risk, triggering asthma attacks).
Maintain indoor relative humidity at 40-60%.
Consider using portable HEPA filtration units.
If fans such as pedestal fans or hard mounted fans are used in the bar, take steps to minimize air from fans blowing from one person directly at another individual.

NOTE: Contact an occupational health and safety professional or ventilation specialist for advice on how to best utilize ventilation systems.

Signs and Messages

Post signs in highly visible locations (ex: restrooms, entrances) that promote everyday protective measures (ex: proper handwashing, wearing masks).
Place signs at the entrance that encourages customers to follow physical distancing requirements. Find creative and fun ways for staff and security to encourage customers to follow these guidelines.
Place signs asking customer and employees to wash hands before and after using the restroom.
Refer to CDC’s free print and digital resources.

Promoting Behaviors that Reduce Spread/Protect Employee Health

Stay home when appropriate.
Develop policies that encourage sick employees to stay home.
Employees should stay home if they have tested positive for or are showing COVID-19 symptoms.
Employees who have recently had a close contact with a person with COVID-19 should stay home and monitor health.
Stagger or rotate shifts to limit number of employees present at same time.
Minimize the number of customers present at one time (refer to previous post for PA-specific guidelines).
Designate a COVID-19 Point of Contact for each shift to be responsible for responding to COVID concerns.

Establish protocols for execution upon discovery that the business has been exposed to a person who is a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19 including:

Close off areas visited by the person who is a probable or confirmed case. Open outside doors and windows and wait a minimum of 24 hours, or as long as practical, before beginning cleaning and disinfection. Ensure safe and correct use and storage of EPA-approved List N disinfectants.
Prepare to isolate and safely transport those who are sick to their home or a healthcare facility.
Identify employees that were in close contact (within about 6 feet for about 10 minutes) with a person with a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19 from the period 48 hrs before symptom onset to the time at which the patient isolated. Advise them to stay home and self-monitor for symptoms and follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop.
Consistent with applicable law and privacy policies, have staff self-report to the designated Point of Contact if they have symptoms of COVID-19 or were exposed to someone with the virus within the last 14 days.
Close off areas used by a sick person. Wait at least 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting.
Notify local health officials of any case of COVID-19 while maintaining confidentiality in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).


Communicate to the customers what the bar is doing to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 (e.g., disinfection routine, health policies for staff, and health & safety measures in place).
Consider placing signage on tables to show that they have been disinfected after previous customers.
Communicate that the bar has the right to refuse service to anyone exhibiting      symptoms or not following guidelines (ex: physical distancing).
Platforms for communication could include websites, reservation processes, hand-outs, and outdoor signage.


Disclaimer: Penn State Extension educational programs, content, and recommendations (including text, graphics, and images) are for educational purposes only. The Pennsylvania State University does not guarantee the accuracy, adequacy or completeness of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for the results obtained from the use of such information.



FDA. Best Practices for Retail Food Stores, Restaurants, and Food Pick-Up/Delivery Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
OSHA. Retail Workers and Employers in Critical and High Customer-Volume Environments.
CDC. Implementation of Mitigation Strategies for Communities with Local COVID-19 Transmission
CDC. What to Do if You are Sick
CDC. June 30, 2020 Considerations for Restaurants and Bars
Numerous wellness questionnaire examples are available online (e.g., South Dakota Department of Health’s COVID-19: Employee Screening Questions and Guidelines).BusinessScreening_Q&A.pdf
July 2, 2020 Governor’s Process to Reopen Pennsylvania
COVID Prevention Plan for Food Establishments. June 2, 2020
COVID-19 Risk Assessment Form for OSHA Guidelines May, 2020
Nyco: What’s the Difference between Sanitizers and Disinfectants? Accessed July 6, 2020
AIHA. version 2, June 19,2020 Reopening-Guidance-for-the-Bar-Industry_GuidanceDocument.pdf



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