If you are an owner or manager of a restaurant or a food service business looking for a safe reopening after the COVID-19 related closures, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
There’s no secret that COVID-19 is still a threat despite the easing of the lockdown. Thus, it is imperative for everyone working in the restaurant and food services sector to play their part in preventing the spread of COVID-19 at work.
Everyone including cashiers, chefs, dishwashers, delivery people, maintenance staff should comply with requirements set by their regulatory authorities.
In this blog, we’ll provide you some safety practices that could help you prepare in the smooth reopening of your business.
Planning and Preparation
First thing first: prepare a checklist that includes everything you need to do to restart your operations. This includes complying with local regulations, reviewing/updating your food system, and creating plans for the safety of your employees and customers.
Document everything critical to your business. Especially since you need to adapt to the new normal, documenting all the necessary procedures will keep you out of trouble.
Notify Your Local Authority
If you need permission from your local authority to restart your business, do it. Also, notify if there is any change to your operations which requires notification to be compliant with regulations. For example, inform authorities if you are introducing new services like takeaways and home deliveries (if needed)
Review/Update Food Safety System
Think about the risks that might come to food safety or with the introduction of new services.
Be critical to the stored food. Due to a long period of closure, stored foods may have passed the expiry (or best-before) date, so make sure you dispose of any unsuitable items.
Meanwhile, make sure you create a procedure that is required to run your new takeaway or delivery services. You need to make sure the food packaging for takeaway or delivery services are appropriate for the purpose and food type.
Checking the Food Preparation Area
Before you set a reopen date, you need a complete assessment of your site and all the equipment. Start with your food preparation area including cooking surfaces and utensils. Make sure you deep clean them. Also, assess if your staff need orientation on the cleaning procedures.
Ensure You Are Free From Pest Activity
Check for signs of damage or smearing to walls and doors, insect bodies, dust, and stained packaging. Clean the site if you can or call for experts to undertake the pest control.
Make Handwashing and Sanitation Materials Available
COVID-19 spreads person to person through close contact so you are obliged to maintain a clean workplace and should encourage your employees and customers to properly sanitize themselves.
Make sure you provide access to soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Clean washroom facilities and provide a safe place for customers to dispose of used sanitizing wipes and personal protective equipment.
Ensure Your Fridges, Plumbing, Water Supply is Working
As your water supply and plumbing system are closed for a long period, make sure to check temperatures and maintain if required. Also make sure your fridges, chilled display equipment, and freezers are working properly.
Employee and Customer Safety
Regulatory authorities have made it clear that organizations have to meet their guidelines to reopen their workplace through proper sanitation, social distancing, and the use of PPE.
Use of PPE
Wear PPE kits like masks while interacting with people and gloves when interacting with high-touch areas. Ensure you wash your hands after removing your gloves. While washing your clothes as soon as you get home.
Make sure your employees strictly follow the 2-meter social distance rule and minimize contact with customers. If needed, assign staff to ensure customers are maintaining safe physical distances in congested areas like entrances/exits and check-outs.
Managing Entry Points
Ensure regular checks for temperature and if possible respiratory symptoms for all employees and customers, whenever they enter the premises. Also, allow only essential employees to enter the kitchen and other critical sections.
The COVID-19 crisis has hit restaurants and food service businesses hard all over the world, just like any other business. However, with the new guidelines and regulations, there’s something to look forward to even though you’ll have to accept the new normal for a foreseeable future. What you need is a solid plan and a mindset of being flexible and adaptable while complying with the regulations. Amidst the circumstances, if you do it right, you’ll not only survive but also thrive.