As the spread of coronavirus has slowly come under control, restaurants and venues across Australia are reopening to allow dine-in guests.
However, this doesn’t mean we can completely ignore the safety guidelines and act normally, like we did before COVID-19. To reopen the operators must follow safety and hygiene guidelines outlined by the state. Following physical distancing, washing hands regularly, and sanitisation will be implemented in venues if you wish to dine-in.
There is still a chance of the virus being spread if we are not cautious enough. So, it’s very crucial to know how to effectively protect your patrons (customers) and employees’ health from potential infection.
To help all restaurant owners out there, here are some the best practices which can help you to protect your customers and employees.
The last few months, we have heard a lot about personal hygiene. Everyone is helping to spread the awareness about personal hygiene – washing hands, covering mouth while coughing, wearing a mask, not touching your face with your hands and many more.
So, the first precaution that can be taken when running a restaurant is by helping to maintain personal hygiene for every staff member and customer. Make sure every employee washes their hands with soap before, during and after preparing food. They should also cover the mouth with a tissue while sneezing and coughing, and if anyone has even minor symptoms of feeling sick, it’s better to let them take a break from work and then get tested, just in case.
Regarding customer safety, use an infrared thermometer to measure their temperatures and give them hand sanitizer to clean their hands before entering the restaurant.
Once you take good care of their basic hygiene, the next step is to help maintain a safe distance between everyone. According to the Australian government, small restaurants can allow up to 10 patrons at one time, while larger restaurants can have up to 20 patrons at a time.
However, everyone needs to maintain a 1.5m distance between each person, and tables should be arranged accordingly. Maintaining distance among staff working needs to be done where possible.
Limit Food Handling
Personal hygiene and social distancing are very crucial when it comes to precautions. However, you can still take it a step further by limiting the number of people who handle food or packaging.
If possible, try to keep fewer staff involved in meal prep and the handling of raw and cooked food separately – You might need to rethink the flow of your kitchen line if you want to run your restaurant more safely.
Clean, Clean and Keep Cleaning
We all love to keep our restaurants clean but the I’m not just talking about cleaning the dust that is visible to our eye. It’s about cleaning high touch surfaces to eliminate the presence of the virus.
If you maintain personal hygiene but fail to maintain the hygiene of your surroundings, you are still vulnerable to being infected. The best thing we can do is frequently clean our restaurant, wipe down counters, clean high-contact surfaces like door handles, menus, tables, cookware, and utensils.
Laminated, Disposable or Digital Menu
Menus are one of the most touched surfaces in a restaurant. They are frequently passed from one person to another increasing indirect contact, which makes it unsafe and a potential threat of spreading the virus, even if just a one person is infected.
Most restaurants in Australia have started using digital menus like large screens to minimize physical contact. It might not be cost-effective for a small restaurant, but there is another solution to it. Either use a disposable menu or laminate the menu and clean it frequently after each use.
Similar to the digital menu, which reduces the physical contact, contactless payment is also one of the best practices, that you need to apply to your restaurant as soon as possible. It’s also easier for a customer to carry a single credit/debit card than cash. Nowadays almost every one of us has access to a credit or debit card so there shouldn’t be any issues with implementing a card only payment.
Encourage your customers to use an electronic payment method like credit or debit cards, phone or other payment-enabled devices. Tap and go payment – it’s so easy, people can tap their card or phone to make payment and avoid the cash, therefore avoiding indirect contact.