While it may not be time to reopen just yet, it is time to start preparing.
After coronavirus (COVID-19) social distancing guidelines went into effect back in March 2020, many businesses have had to close, causing a damaging blow to the economy, and the financial security of millions.
It’s no secret that the restaurant and food service industry has been hit especially hard by the coronavirus.
Currently, patrons can no longer dine in due to social distancing, but they can still order takeout. While many restaurants remained “open” their usual business traffic plummeted. Expected revenue evaporated. Some are even offering delivery for the first time as a last resort. Too many are barely staying afloat.
Crest Insurance is here to help give restaurants and other food service workers perspective and guidance with their reopening plan, so their business can get back on track responsibly and continue to flourish.
Georgia just announced its plan to reopen the state after their stay at home order expires on April 30th. However, it’s still unclear whether or not this will help curb the spread of the virus. Many experts have warned against states opening up again so quickly. However, if restaurants are reopening, it’s absolutely paramount that they have the proper protocols, guidance, equipment, and educational materials in place before doing so.
Food Safety Explained
In recent decades, restaurants have been typically overseen by the FDA’s Food Code. This federal model assists with food control jurisdictions at all levels. It uses a specific scientific, legal, and technical basis for regulating the food service industry (restaurants, grocery stores, nursing homes, etc.)
Yet despite all of its wisdom, these guidelines have been revised, adapted, and updated in the past few months to help combat the coronavirus.
Working During COVID-19
Currently, there are distinct measures in place for essential employees on the front lines of this unprecedented situation.
Employees should not come to work if they:
- Traveled outside the country in the past month
- Have symptoms such as a dry cough, sore throat, headache, or difficulty breathing
- Have come into close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19
At work, employees should always:
- Wash their hands frequently with warm soap and water
- Avoid touching their eyes, nose, mouth, or any facial area
- Wear an approved mask and pair of disposable gloves in public
- Practice social distancing, remain six feet apart when possible
- Regularly clean, sanitize, disinfect all work areas
- Discard all out-of-date, damaged, or poor quality food
But if more states want to reopen soon, things can’t simply go back to exactly the way they were before. Moving forward through this global pandemic will require some different social practices.
Social Distancing, Continued
All restaurants should update their floor plans when reopening. This swift transition should include:
- Spaced out seating at least six feet apart
- Hand sanitizer stations, or hand wipes for customers
- Tape markers on the ground for ordering and takeout lines
- Removing any samples on display (easy contamination)
- Proper air circulation (vents, A/C, windows)
- Disinfecting all surfaces, tables, counters, utensils
- Sanitizing all food prep areas, i.e. kitchens
- Providing disposable napkins, not reusable
It’s unclear if things will eventually go back to “normal” or if some of these more strict physical distancing and cleaning guidelines are here to stay.
Other Practices To Consider
To assist during these times, The National Restaurant Association recently released a Restaurant Reopening Guidance plan. Download it here. This was designed to provide a general framework for restaurants reopening. Not every restaurant is the same, so not all reopening plans will be the same. Some other workplace safety practices include:
- Taking employee’s temperatures before work
- Mandating masks & gloves at all times, even if you’re not touching food
- Implementing a new online ordering system, especially a mobile-friendly one
- Offering delivery deals and discounts to promote less physical contact
- Re-designing your break room so that employees remain staggered apart
Again, there is no one size fits all for this combat against a virus.
As states slowly begin to reopen across the country, individuals and businesses alike will have to adhere to specific cautionary measures. It’s not exactly clear what those are, but time will tell us in the upcoming months. Contact Crest Insurance today if you have any questions regarding coverage during these uncertain times.