We've all seen the empty salad bars in supermarkets like Hannaford, some of them filled with other products or prepackaged salads to go. Buffets in many restaurants have also been shut down for nearly a year, but effective immediately, both salad bars and buffets may now open back up with some new guidelines.

Any food offered that was self-serve was a concern during the pandemic. All those hands possibly touching those serving areas and food wouldn't do us any favors in containing the spread of COVID-19.

On Wednesday, Governor Mills updated safety guidelines for self-service stations and buffets allowing them to re-open with these changes:

1. Patrons may self-serve food if hand sanitizer stations are located at both ends of the buffet or self-service station and signage is posted to require hand sanitizing before each visit to a station.
2. If areas are not configured for self-service, designated staff (e.g., buffet attendant) should serve onto patron’s plate while wearing a mask and gloves and maintaining 6 feet of physical distance with patrons and other employees.
3. Separate buffet stations should maintain 6 feet of distancing and allow for physical distancing between patrons throughout establishment.
4. Impermeable barriers should be put in place between servers and patrons; patron and servers should not exchange or pass the same plate multiple times.
Queue points should be established 6 feet apart with markers to encourage social distancing.
5. Queues should be limited to patrons from the same dining party to the extent possible.
6. Utensils used for serving should be changed hourly.
7. Children in self-service food areas must be supervised by an adult.
8. Masks must be worn at all times by individuals in self-service food areas. 

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LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.

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