The Coronavirus pandemic has brought many adverse effects to different aspects of the economy. Mostly, the lockdowns imposed on many areas have paralysed the global economy. Many governments around the globe had instructed people to work from home to protect themselves from the virus, and control its spread. Restaurants and cafes are among the elements that have been significantly hit by the pandemic. Primarily, the virus is transmitted through air and contact. The best way for people to protect themselves is to keep an ideal social distance between them, and also to avoid crowded places.
Generally, in a restaurant or a café, people were always crowded, facilitating the spread of COVID-19. Thus, they were shut down to control the spread of the virus. However, economies are now reopening and adapting to the new normal amid the coronavirus pandemic. Restaurants and cafes are being reopened, but they are expected to observe specific measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
We cover protocols that restaurants and cafes must observe when reopening to ensure that they help control the spread of the disease.
Reopening During COVID
The primary way that the virus is spread is through air and contact. The closer someone is to other people, the higher their chance of contracting the disease. Restaurants and cafes have to reduce contact between customers and the ideal way to do this would be to capitalise on food deliveries, or limiting services to drive-through food service, whereby customers won’t have to enter the restaurant to get food. However, if this is not applicable, there are still many regulations that restaurants and cafes can take to ensure that they successfully reopen, and at the same time, minimise the risk of the spread of the virus.
Promoting Behaviours That Minimise the Spread
For successful reopening, restaurants and cafes have to incorporate certain behaviours that will help in regulating the spread of the disease.
- Hand hygiene – You should instruct your employees to wash their hands frequently. They should fully understand food and hygiene regulations. You should ensure that you have set up sufficient hand washing points with adequate water and soap supply
- Respiratory etiquette – Proper use of tissues with coughs and sneezes, Catch It, Bin It, Kill It
- Face Masks – Encourage your employees to wear face masks all the time. It is an essential way of controlling the spread of the virus
- Signage – You should ensure that you place signage and post signs in appropriate places inside the restaurant and the café to promote the coronavirus protective measures. They help remind both customers and employees of the importance of observing all the COVID-19 protective protocols
- Stay home when appropriate – Educate your employees on the importance of staying home when necessary. If one of your employees has been in contact with someone that has been tested positive for Coronavirus, they should avoid coming to work. Stay home for at least 14 days, and monitor their health so that they don’t put everyone else at the restaurant at risk of contracting the virus
Maintain a Healthy Environment
Any restaurant or a café should implement sound strategies to ensure that they maintain a healthy environment for its employees and customers.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces – Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, develop a daily routine of disinfecting surfaces and prevent it from spreading
- Sharing of objects – Discourage your employees form sharing objects such as serving spoons, bottle openers, serving cloths. You should try and provide enough equipment for everyone to use. If it is not possible, limit the use of specific equipment to a group of staff, and disinfect them before other employees use the same equipment
- Sufficient ventilation – You should ensure that there is sufficient ventilation inside your restaurant or café to reduce the virus’s chances of spreading. Try and keep your windows open rather then air conditioning
- Modify the layout – You should ensure that you set up the layouts in your restaurant or café, as per the COVID-19 safety protocols by ensuring that seating is at least 1 meter apart. Limit the number of customers that enter your restaurant at any one time, including using crowd control systems to manage traffic flow.
Maintain Healthy Operations
There are several things that a responsible restaurant and café should implement to control the spread of the virus amid these uncertain times.
- Protect the most vulnerable – Staff with underlying medical conditions or over 60’s are at a high risk of developing severe illness from the virus. Where possible try to give them roles that do not put them at high risk where they will not be in contact with many people
- Follow regulations – You should ensure that you follow all the guidelines outlined by your county council
- COVID-19 point of contact – Ensure that you designate a place of COVID -19 contact where people can get information about the Coronavirus. Additionally, you should make sure that there is a person with adequate information about the disease at the point of contact during each shift
- Leave policies – You should ensure that you implement effective sick leave policies that allow employees to stay home whenever they feel unwell. It helps control the spread of the virus because when an employee experiences symptoms of the virus, they will be able to stay at home
- Staff training – You should ensure that all your staff members are trained with all the necessary COVID-19 preventative measures
- Daily checks – Conduct daily temperature checks for your employees. Testing your employees would be an excellent way to control the spread of the virus
- Support coping – Being in the food industry you should be encouraging a healthy diet, foods rich in in vitamin C and Zinc. Lockdown has also created a rise in mental health, encourage employee support and well being.
Prepare for Sick Employees
While the measures to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus are beneficial, there are times that your employees may still fall sick. As such, it would be helpful to prepare in advance for sick employees adequately.
- Isolation criteria – You should tell your sick employees to quarantine themselves adequately, and not report to work until they are entirely free of the virus as per the criteria to discontinue isolation
- Isolate the sick – Once one of your employees falls ill and in event of positive result, monitor other employees and review measures in place
- Notify health officials of positive cases – Whenever there is a coronavirus case among your employees, you should notify county council health officials about the case so that adequate measures are taken. Additionally, you should also notify the close contacts of the individual with the virus to self-isolate in their homes for at least 14 days as per the WHO guidelines. After the 14 days have lapsed, they should be tested to the virus, and if they are negative, they are cleared to join and interact with other people.
Before reopening your restaurant or café, ensure that you first notify your local authorities responsible. You will have to brief them about all the guidelines you have implemented to ensure that you reduce the risk of spreading the virus. If they are satisfied with the safety regulations that you have undertaken, you can reopen your restaurant.
After having been closed for a while, its worthwhile checking for any pest or rodent signs.
Check all equipment is in working order and properly cleaned and maintained.
Reopening restaurants and cafes during this pandemic may be challenging because of all the things you have to do before reopening and after reopening. While it is hard, this should help minimise the risk of doing so.
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