Self-serve buffets can start up again in Utah — with restrictions

(Tribune file photo) This 2016 file photo shows a salad bar at a Harmons grocery store. Utah is now allowing self-serve food buffets to operate again.

Self-serve buffets can operate again in Utah — with certain restrictions — under new guidelines announced Monday by Gov. Gary Herbert.

“Patrons may self-serve from food bars,” according to the new 4.9 version of Utah’s phased guidelines, “if hand sanitizer is used by each patron each time they enter a different food bar line.”

In these self-serve areas, restaurants also must replace the serving utensils every 30 minutes. Patrons also must wear face coverings in food-serving areas.

The restrictions, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, apply to restaurants in both orange (moderate) and yellow (low) risk regions.

Buffet and self-serve restaurants should continue to “hand utensils, cups, plates and other service items directly to patrons,” the guidelines say. “None of these items will be set out for patrons to self-serve.”

The guidelines also address restaurants that are open 24 hours.

These operations must close for cleaning and disinfecting twice a day — morning and evening. “Cleaning and disinfecting includes all tables, chairs, door handles, floors, bathrooms, and any high-touch surfaces.”

All restaurants in Utah must continue to limit tables to groups of no more than 10, preferably limited to members of the same household.

In waiting areas, a 6-foot distance must be maintained between parties, whether indoor or outdoor, and tables also must be 6 feet apart.

Contactless and nonsignature payment is preferred.