Governor Announces New Order to Reopen Self-Serve Food Options

Yesterday, Governor DeWine issued a press release announcing a change to the “Dine Safe Ohio Order” that permits all retail food establishments regulated by the Department of Agriculture, such as grocery and convenience stores, to reopen self-service food stations.  Later in the day, the Ohio Department of Health issued guidance for those businesses regarding the proper protocols to be implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  The protocols include things such as requiring customers to social distance, wear face coverings, use hand sanitizer, and use disposable utensils.  In place of using disposable utensils, store staff can instead clean high-touch utensils and surfaces frequently.  The business must install sneeze guards to prevent food contamination and properly trained staff must continually monitor the self-serve stations.  Please review the guidance for yourself.

While this is a positive development, it does not necessarily apply statewide.  The Columbus Department of Public Health informed us today that they intend to notify all retail food establishments licensed in their jurisdiction (Columbus and Worthington) that their Director’s order prohibiting salad bars and buffets from back in March remains in place.  Although the order only speaks to salad bars and buffets, Columbus Public Health may still interpret the term “buffets” to include all self-serve.  We are awaiting clarification from them.

Please remember that local orders and ordinances that are more restrictive than state orders take precedence.

If you have any questions about the state order and guidance or the Columbus order, please e-mail Lora Miller at or call 614-221-7833.