Legal Repercussions for US Restaurants Ignoring COVID-19 Food Safety Guidelines

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the United States, restaurants across the country have been forced to adapt to new safety guidelines to protect their employees and customers. These guidelines, issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), include measures such as social distancing, wearing masks, and enhanced cleaning procedures. But what happens if a restaurant chooses to ignore these guidelines? Could they face legal repercussions? The answer is yes, and the consequences could be severe.

Restaurants that fail to comply with COVID-19 safety guidelines could face a variety of legal consequences. These could range from fines and penalties imposed by local health departments to lawsuits from customers or employees who contract the virus.

  • Fines and Penalties: Local health departments have the authority to impose fines and penalties on restaurants that do not comply with safety guidelines. In some cases, restaurants could even be shut down until they are able to demonstrate compliance.
  • Lawsuits: If a customer or employee contracts COVID-19 and can prove that the restaurant’s negligence was a contributing factor, they could potentially sue the restaurant for damages. This could result in significant financial loss for the restaurant.

There are several steps that restaurants can take to protect themselves from potential legal repercussions. These include following all safety guidelines, training employees on these guidelines, and documenting all safety measures taken.

  • Follow All Safety Guidelines: The most important step is to follow all safety guidelines issued by the CDC and FDA. This includes social distancing, wearing masks, and enhanced cleaning procedures.
  • Train Employees: All employees should be trained on these guidelines and understand the importance of following them. This not only protects the employees and customers, but also the restaurant itself.
  • Document Safety Measures: Restaurants should document all safety measures taken, including cleaning schedules, employee training, and any incidents of non-compliance. This documentation could be crucial in the event of a lawsuit.


In conclusion, restaurants that choose to ignore COVID-19 safety guidelines could face serious legal repercussions. However, by following all guidelines, training employees, and documenting safety measures, restaurants can protect themselves and their customers during this challenging time.