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.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@redmond-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.redmond-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

File photo
Snow Lake, located near Snoqualmie Pass in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
Washington releases new forest plan

It outlines ways the state will protect and maintain forest health.

Sage Viniconis is a career performing artist in King County who’s been out of work and seeking creative outlets during the COVID-19 pandemic. Courtesy photo/Sage Viniconis
Puget Sound artists adapt creativity, and business sense, to pandemic

Artists Sunday is an online directory that connects artists across the county, state and nation.

Chris Fagan trekking across Antarctica in 2014. Contributed by Chris Fagan
South Pole or Bust

The story of a North Bend couple who trekked across Antarctica.

King County Council has nine members who each represent a district. Courtesy of kingcounty.gov
King County Council passes $12.59 billion biennial budget

King County Council on Nov. 17 passed a $12.59 billion biennial budget… Continue reading

pexels
EvergreenHealth receives stroke care certification

The hospital system was able to demonstrate quality care and an advanced stroke program

State Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah) authored the letter to Gov. Jay Inslee. Mullet represents the 5th Legislative District. File photo
Democratic lawmakers ask Inslee to lift ban on indoor dining

They want to try to scaling back on occupancy before forcing an end to inside service.

Tim Eyman get in some last minute campaigning for I-976 in downtown Bellevue on the afternoon of Nov. 5, 2019. File photo
Eyman fights allegation he repeatedly broke campaign laws

In a lawsuit, the state accuses the prolific initiative promoter of getting kickbacks.

Kabal Gill, owner of East India Grill in Federal Way, wears gloves to hand over take-out orders at his restaurant. File photo
State halts indoor service at bars, restaurants, home guests

Amid soaring new coronavirus cases and an overburdened health care system, the state’s clamping down.

King County 2020 unemployment numbers. Source: Washington State Employment Security Department
Boeing, coronavirus likely to impact King County economy

Unemployment remained high in September.

A rendering of the entrance of the upcoming southeast Redmond Light Rail stop. Courtesy Photo/Sound Transit
Construction work increasing around Redmond light rail extension

Residents can expect upcoming tree removal, structure demolition, utility relocation along State Route 520

File photo
State Supreme Court strikes down $30 car-tab initiative

Justices unanimously agreed that voter-approved Initiative 976 is unconstitutional.

The closed Redmond Senior Center on Oct. 13. Community members leave ribbons in the heart to honor the memories of the to-be-demolished center. Haley Ausbun/staff photo.
Demolition of Redmond Senior Center underway this month

The city council has an upcoming vote on the size and cost of the future senior center