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Ho Chi Minh City food safety agency issues criteria for eateries in new social distancing phase

Ho Chi Minh City food safety agency issues criteria for eateries in new social distancing phase

Friday, April 24, 2020, 16:13 GMT+7
Ho Chi Minh City food safety agency issues criteria for eateries in new social distancing phase
Diners enjoy their meals along a street in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in this photo taken before social distancing started on April 1, 2020. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

Authorities in Ho Chi Minh City have announced a list of ten criteria that local restaurants and eateries must meet to reopen as part of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) prevention measures, after social distancing rules were eased this week.

The Food Safety Management Authority of Ho Chi Minh City (FSMA) issued the list on Thursday and required owners of catering businesses to strictly follow the guidelines in order to qualify for operating during the new phase of social distancing.

Here are the ten criteria:

1. Eateries must keep records of all ingredients they use and must have invoices or supplier contracts to prove the origin of the ingredients.

2. Food must be kept in elevated storage; raw ingredients must be stored separately from cooked food; the temperature inside storerooms must be regularly monitored; and the storage area must be kept tidy, clean, and insect-free.

3. The food processing area has to be fully furnished to ensure food safety, while raw ingredients have to be processed using separate equipment; garbage has to be kept in containers with lids.

4. The cooking area has to be protected from insects and be at least 60 centimeters from the ground; all cooking tools must meet food safety standards; kitchen staff have to properly sanitize their hands.

5. Spacing of more than one meter between customers must be maintained while the density of diners must not exceed one person per three square meters of floor area; alternatively, one-meter partitions can be installed on tables to separate between two diners.

6. The dining area must be equipped with soap or hand sanitizer, as well as hand dryers or disposable paper towels for diners to dry their hands after washing.

7. Tables and chairs have to be regularly disinfected.

8. Utensils have to be stored in a separate cabinet, be washed immediately after use, and must not be placed on tables before serving.

9. All employees have to be outfitted with proper workwear, namely hats, gloves, face masks, aprons, and more, and have their body temperature regularly measured.

10. Soap or hand sanitizer must be prepared for all employees, diners, and food delivery staff.

Eateries in Ho Chi Minh City are only allowed to operate from Thursday if they meet five or more criteria, with the fifth, ninth, and tenth criteria being compulsory.

The list of criteria has been submitted to the municipal Department of Health and People’s Committee for evaluation before being implemented.

The central government relaxed social distancing restrictions on Thursday after COVID-19 infections had decelerated for three weeks.

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