As NC restaurants partially reopen dining rooms, state offers online certification course

Updated: May. 22, 2020 at 10:49 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - North Carolina restaurants half-full and some spots are only offering half-menus, however, they are now back open.

There are many rules and suggestions for restaurant owners to follow, to keep employees and customers safe.

The North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association created an online certification.

If a restaurant takes it and passes, customers will see a sign in its window, saying it is “Count on Me NC" certified.

The online course is free and quick to register.

Those in charge allowed a WBTV reporter to go through the course Friday as if she were a restaurant owner.

The course involves voice-tracked training slides to learn more about reopening. It reviews topics like physical distancing, cleaning and disinfecting and employee health.

Checkpoints throughout test the course-taker on basic reopening knowledge. It took a WBTV reporter about 23 minutes to complete.

204 North in Uptown is one Charlotte restaurant that has completed this certification.

Friday, owner Anthony Kearey prepared for his evening reopening by separating tables and cleaning up.

The restaurant is taking precautions, both large and small, taking measures like using single-use items and staying at the required 50 percent capacity.

“Double checking every point of sanitation, making sure every door is wiped clean every few minutes, not every few hours," Kearey said.

It is the same for restaurants across the area, partially reopening dining rooms Friday night.

Kearey said it will work for now, but it is not ideal.

“We don’t desire to run at 50 percent,” he said. “Our property tax alone is well over $2,000 a month.”

For the first weekend, 204 North is serving up burgers and fries, only.

“I think simplicity in a trying time like this when we don’t know what the norm is,” Kearey said. “I rather start slow and we can build from there, rather than come out of the gate crazy and mess something up.”

Right now, restaurant owners like him are trying to figure out when things will look like they did, pre-COVID-19.

“Who knows how long before we get back to where we were," Kearey said. "It could be six weeks, it could be six months, it could be six years.”

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