Hygiene standards have always been high in the food and hospitality industries but these standards have skyrocketed even more this year, in the wake of COVID-19. As businesses are starting the reopen with the pandemic still present, it is now more important than ever to practice the right safety measures.
Restaurant owners are facing a big responsibility in this regard and must ensure that both their employees and customers are following all the rules for the sake of everyone’s safety. Here are some of the best practices restaurant and food pick-up/delivery businesses should stick to religiously if they are to reopen in the near future.
Manage Your Employees’ Health Status
In order to prevent any potential transmission, your employees’ health status should always be monitored. Do temperature checks on each employee regularly. However, remember that your employees are entitled to their privacy regarding their health status.
Therefore, these temperature checks should be executed privately and in case one of your employees is affected, everyone who might have come into contact with them should be notified with discretion. Moreover, instruct your employees to monitor themselves, too.
If they are sick, they should stay home (or be sent home immediately). Besides your employees, it’s also recommended that you check the temperature of your guests as well.
Wear Protective Gear
Needless to say, wearing gloves and face masks when handling food will be necessary. However, remember that just because you are wearing them, it does not mean that all the risk is gone. Consult mask-wearing guides to make sure that everyone is doing it the right way.
While gloves might make you and your guests feel secure, remember that you can still transmit germs from one place to another while wearing them, so you should be just as careful as with your bare hands. Remember that it is possible to wash your gloves while they are still on.
As it is already known by most people in the world, regular hand washing is one of the best precautions one can take against COVID-19, and the use of soap is of extreme importance here as it can destroy the virus. So, encourage your employees to wash their hands often.
At the same time, it’s worth keeping in mind that too frequent hand washing can damage the skin, exposing you to germs even more. Therefore, make sure to choose products that won’t dry out the skin too much – go for something gentle and hydrating instead of products that are harsh.
Dry Your Hands
From a hygienic point of view, drying one’s hands after washing them is mandatory, since dirt and germs will stick to wet hands easily. However, it might be a good idea to steer clear of air dryers. Air dryers have always been notorious for being unhygienic.
Their warm air provides the perfect breeding ground for bacteria that can normally be found in bathroom air. So, when you turn it on, the dryer will disseminate these bacteria all around, ruining your efforts at washing your hands. So, needless to say, using paper towels is a better option.
Stock Up On Sanitizer
While soap is still the number one weapon against the coronavirus, your restaurant will also need to stock up on sanitizers. First of all, hand sanitizer should be available all around the establishment.
Hand sanitizer bottles should be placed at the entrance as well as on tables so that guests can use them. Nevertheless, note that sanitizer should not be used instead of soap; rather, it should be used as additional protection.
Never use sanitizer only when your hands are visibly dirty, and don’t handle food with your bare hands if you’ve only cleaned them with hand sanitizer.
Still, hand sanitizer will be invaluable for workers doing delivery, when soap water is not available. Just make sure the hand sanitizer you buy is alcohol-based.
As for the rest of the sanitizing agents that you use throughout your establishment, make sure that you always use them for their intended purpose.
Against our best intentions, it can happen that something slips our mind. This is why it might be a good idea to hang up signs in your establishment detailing the proper manner of conduct. This will include reminders where masks are mandatory, as well as the right way to wash one’s hands effectively.
These signs will not only act as a reminder to your employees and visitors, but they will also showcase responsibility from your side. In addition, doing this might help with managing uncooperative guests.
Keep Surfaces Clean
Surfaces that are touched a lot pose a risk in high-traffic areas. This is why it will be essential that these surfaces are disinfected frequently. This includes not only the tables where guests come and go but also any touchscreens, door knobs/handles, as well as the insides of delivery vehicles.
Don’t worry about doing this in front of your guests. In fact, they prefer if they can see that the establishment is being kept clean.
Keep The Bathrooms Clean
The bathrooms reflect how clean your restaurant is perceived as. And rest assured guests will remember this detail and likely judge the rest of the establishment’s cleanliness based on their bathroom experience. So, it is clear that you have to pay special attention to this area.
The frequency at which the bathrooms should be cleaned will depend on the size of your business and the amount of traffic it gets. When it comes to the cleaning process itself, it’s important to be thorough. For instance, it’s not enough to just change the lining of sanitary bins, they also need to be disinfected regularly.
Go For Disposable
In order to ensure the highest level of safety possible, it might be necessary to change up some of your tools. For instance, you might need to introduce single-use table mats that you will discard after each guest.
It’s also a good idea to go for disposable cleaning supplies such as wipes, instead of using rags. Of course, there is the concern that abusing disposable supplies is not good for our planet, which is entirely valid. However, you can always choose the more eco-friendly option that you have.
Another staple of staying safe in 2020 is social distancing. While this might not be possible at all times, try to minimize gatherings of larger numbers of people within your establishment. Limiting the number of guests indoors is one of the first steps.
To compensate for the loss this means financially, you can introduce additional outdoor seating or encourage delivery instead. What this rule also means for your employees is that they shouldn’t gather in a small enclosed space.
Instead of the breakroom, encourage them to take their break outside, and organize their schedules so that they take turns using the break room.
Look Into Contact-Free Delivery
Food delivery usually comes with making a lot of contact, which is something that we need to limit these times. Some businesses have started implementing no-touch or contact-free delivery to remedy this issue. Consider if this is a viable option for your business, as it’s not difficult to introduce it but it greatly improves the safety of your employees.
However, even if restaurants or cloud kitchens implement no-contact deliveries, they still need to put in place safety practices. Delivery staff should wear personal protective equipment, including FDA-approved, high-filter masks and medical-grade gloves. And they should practice hygiene habits such as frequently sanitizing their hands. Safety is key for your customers and employees.
Restaurants and other food-related businesses are certainly in a tough situation right now. However, taking the aforementioned precautions is more important than anything. Make sure you consult the detailed instructions of reliable organizations such as the WHO, the CDC, and the FDA to cover all the bases and ensure that your business can continue to operate safely.