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Coronavirus: Eating out is OK in Oklahoma, according to ORA

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Lunch customers sit at the counter inside Sid's Diner in El Reno. [Oklahoman Archives]
Lunch customers sit at the counter inside Sid's Diner in El Reno. [Oklahoman Archives]

Is it safe to eat out during the coronavirus outbreak?

The Oklahoma Restaurant Association believes so, and they're making sure the more than 7000 restaurants across the state take every measure to make sure it doesn't happen by staying in contact with local, state and federal officials and sharing information.

According to the Harvard Coronovirus Resource Center, passing the virus through food would be practically impossible. From the page:

We are still learning about transmission of the new coronavirus. It's not clear if it can be spread by an infected person through food they have handled or prepared, but if so it would more likely be the exception than the rule.

The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus known to spread by upper respiratory secretions, including airborne droplets after coughing or sneezing. The virus that causes COVID-19 has also been detected in the stool of certain people. So we currently cannot rule out the possibility of the infection being transmitted through food by an infected person who has not thoroughly washed their hands. In the case of hot food, the virus would likely be killed by cooking. This may not be the case with uncooked foods like salads or sandwiches.

So the diners responsibility is to choose what they eat wisely, avoid overcrowding, keep hands clean, and cover any coughing or sneezing.  With that in mind, any coughing or sneezing, is a great excuse not to leave the house.

Restaurants are working with the ORA, which oversees the interests of 185,000 trained and skilled employees serving the public every day.

The ORA released a statement Friday to remind the public restaurants are open and still a great place to gather with friends and family.

“It’s a time of uncertainty for many people in Oklahoma during the coronavirus issue. But one thing is for sure: You should not be afraid to eat at your favorite restaurant during this time," ORA president Jim Hopper said in the release.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the ORA and local restaurants have been busy reviewing and fortifying sanitation practices for utensils, hard surfaces, personal habits, and food-handling.

 “In partnership with the Oklahoma State Health Department and local Health Departments, restaurants have been utilizing good sanitation and training of their employees for many years. Restaurants remain one of the safest places you can dine out at during this time”, said Hopper.

The ORA has been sharing information with its members around the state about extra precautions they can take to prevent the spread of the virus as well as lists of specific disinfectants and cleaning agents that are effective against this virus.

“Diners should take comfort in the fact that restaurants have been meeting food safety and sanitation standards for decades so they already have protocols in place,” said Hopper.

 In the statement, the ORA said it will stay engaged with officials to ensure local employers and employees have the latest information during this public health crisis.

Meanwhile, folks in the lodging industry are open for business, too.

The Oklahoma lodging industry, including 930 properties statewide with more than 63,400 employees, remains ready to welcome guests from across the state and beyond. The ongoing pandemic has meant a loss of business, but Oklahoma hotels are open and prepared for overnight stays,  meetings, events and private gatherings. 

In a statement released Friday by the Oklahoma Hotel and Lodging Association, the trade organization said travelers and diners should take comfort in the fact that hotels have been meeting food safety and sanitation standards for decades and have protocols in place to protect guests..

“For Oklahoma’s hospitality and lodging industry, the safety of the traveling public, our guests and our employees is of the utmost importance”, according to Patti Colley, Chief Strategy Officer, Oklahoma Hotel and Lodging Association. “In partnership with the Oklahoma State Department of Health, hotels and their dining establishments have been utilizing good sanitation and training of their employees for many years. Even now, they are in contact with public health authorities and are acting to provide a safe environment during the evolving COVID-19 emergency," Colley said in a release.

The Oklahoma Hotel and Lodging Association, together with the American Hotel and Lodging Association has provided hotels with many resources including additional precautions they can take to prevent the spread of the virus, cleaning agents and disinfectants that are effective against this virus, and informational webinars to keep them informed of the changing environment.

 “While it's important to remain informed and take precautions in times like these, it's equally important to make rational, thoughtful and fact-based decisions about travel. The Oklahoma Hotel & Lodging Association continues to engage with local, state, and federal officials to help our employers and employees address this public health issue,” Colley said.

 

 

Related Photos
Lunch customers sit at the counter inside Sid's Diner in El Reno. [Oklahoman Archives]

Lunch customers sit at the counter inside Sid's Diner in El Reno. [Oklahoman Archives]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-87709fd63f240de32aca85491347d954.jpg" alt="Photo - Lunch customers sit at the counter inside Sid's Diner in El Reno. [Oklahoman Archives]" title="Lunch customers sit at the counter inside Sid's Diner in El Reno. [Oklahoman Archives]"><figcaption>Lunch customers sit at the counter inside Sid's Diner in El Reno. [Oklahoman Archives]</figcaption></figure>
Dave Cathey

The Oklahoman's food editor, Dave Cathey, keeps his eye on culinary arts and serves up news and reviews from Oklahoma’s booming food scene. Read more ›

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