So far, more than 670 businesses have signed up to participate.

By Alison Fox
May 26, 2020
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Shops and restaurants in Charlotte, N.C.
Streeter Lecka / Staff

In an effort to assure travelers coming to North Carolina, the state is offering safety and sanitation training and certifications for restaurants, hotels, and attractions.

The program, “Count on Me NC,” will allow visitors to easily identify businesses that have volunteered for the training, which covers everything from employee health checks to how to clean high-touch surfaces, according to organizers.

"Customers will appreciate the commitment of our restaurants, hotels and other businesses to protect their health, the health of other patrons, and the health of our employees by following the guidance of top medical experts in cleaning and sanitizing public spaces,” Lynn Minges, the president and CEO of NCRLA, said in a statement provided to Travel + Leisure. “At the same time, the presence of hand sanitizer and other cues will remind them to do their part to limit risk to their companions, fellow consumers and the people serving them."

So far, more than 670 businesses have signed up to participate, according to the North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association.

Restaurants started the training last week, according to the group, and once they complete it, they will receive a certificate to be displayed.

“Research shows us that the public is eager to begin traveling and dining out," Wit Tuttell, the director of Visit NC, said in the statement. "It also shows that they have very high expectations for cleaning and social distancing protocols."

The “Count on Me NC” program also includes a visitor pledge focused on the idea of wearing face coverings, maintaining six feet of distance from other people, and practicing frequent hand washing.

North Carolina has recorded more than 24,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. On May 22, the state moved into Phase 2 of its reopening plan and allowed restaurants to open for dine-in, indoor and outdoor pools to open with 50 percent capacity, and retail businesses to open with the “Emergency Maximum Occupancy.”

North Carolina also boasts access to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which began a phased reopening earlier this month.

The state isn’t alone in looking to certify businesses in the tourism industry to reassure travelers. Singapore has a similar program with its "SG Clean" designation, which includes a checklist of protocols like increasing the frequency of disinfection in common areas.