Restaurant Safety: How to Keep Staff and Guests Safe Upon Reopening

/ Foodservice Tips, Restaurant Tips / May 13

Waitstaff Setting Table with Face Mask On-Restaurant Safety: How to Keep Staff and Guests Safe Upon Reopening

Reopening your restaurant and commercial kitchen during these strange times comes with a few extra steps. Not only do you need to ensure your equipment has been properly restarted, and tables and equipment are clean, but additional safety measures need to be taken to ensure your staff and guests can stay healthy and happy while in your establishment. Whether you’re setting up social distancing measures for your takeout area or establishing new cleaning procedures, it’s important that these restaurant safety measures are carried out before reopening and practiced while serving your guests.

Below are coronavirus-related (COVID-19) safety tips to utilize in your restaurant upon reopening.

General Safety Tips for Your Restaurant

The safety measures listed below are universal for keeping you, your staff and your customers safe and healthy upon reopening your restaurant. Many of these guidance tips should be set-up prior to opening your doors for the first time, while training your staff on these precautions and how to handle them.Simple COVID-19 Precautions-Restaurant Safety: How to Keep Staff and Guests Safe Upon Reopening

  • Informational Signage—Post signs at the entrance to your restaurant restricting access to those with a fever or signs of COVID-19.

  • Social Distancing—Establish social distancing parameters with both staff and guests, either by marking designated areas or floor plan changes.

    • These will be elaborated on further.

  • Workable Barriers & Physical Safeguards—If they can be added, install barriers and Plexiglass guards to limit contact from certain areas of the restaurant and keep both staff and customers safe.

  • Using Contact-Free Technology—Utilize contactless technology, such as mobile ordering and touchless credit card readers.

  • Follow Local Ordinances on Safety Gear—If mandated in your area, ensure both guests and staff are wearing face coverings while inside the restaurant.

  • Menus & Other Regularly-Used Items—Offer certain items as single-use, like menus. If you don’t opt for disposable menus, make sure physical menus are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized after each use.

  • Cleaning & Sanitization—Thoroughly sanitize and clean the entire restaurant, especially the kitchen, dining room(s) and takeout station(s).

    • NOTE: Be sure to use the proper food-grade cleaners for surfaces that come into contact with food product

  • Restrooms—Clean and sanitize restrooms regularly throughout the day.

How to Keep Restaurant Guests Safe

With the public re-entering your restaurant during this time, it’s vital to take necessary precautions to make sure that all new and returning customers stay safe. Additionally, while taking these steps can help stop or significantly slow down the spread of COVID-19, one of the many benefits to establishing these best practices is adding peace-of-mind for your guests while they’re in your restaurant.Diners in Restaurant Social Distancing-Restaurant Safety: How to Keep Staff and Guests Safe Upon Reopening

Here are the safety protocols you can use to keep customers safe after reopening:

  • Regular Cleaning & Sanitization—Regularly sanitize tabletops, condiment bottles, menus and other commonly-touched areas and items between new guests

  • Dispose of Single-Use Items—Discard single-use items immediately after a guest has come into contact with the item.

  • Remove Commonly-Touched Items from Communal Areas—Remove open air items from self-service stations like to-go lids, lemons, straws and condiment packets.

  • Set Up Hand Sanitizing Stations—Offer hand sanitizing stations around your restaurant, especially at the entrances and exits.

  • Social Distancing in the Dining Room—Space out tables and seating arrangements in accordance with CDC-recommended social distancing measures.

    • Additionally, take measures to dissuade patrons from congregating in waiting areas or in takeout lines. Place markings on the floor to help your customers adhere to social distancing practices.

  • Train Staff in Proper Food Handling Best-Practices—Ensure that your staff has been properly trained as ServSafe food handlers, and that those in management are ServSafe-certified

How to Keep Restaurant Staff Safe

Your staff are at the forefront of safety and just as much at risk—if not more so—as your guests. Taking the necessary steps to keep your staff safe is vital to a successful reopening and continued operation.Restaurant Chef Wearing Face Mask-Restaurant Safety: How to Keep Staff and Guests Safe Upon Reopening

  • Handwashing Procedures—Implement stringent handwashing/hand sanitizing practices.

  • Provide Staff with Safety Gear—Provide staff with CDC-approved face coverings, especially in states that are mandating this precaution.

  • Social Distancing for Staff—Re-designate staff-only work areas to minimize person-to-person contact.

  • Offer and Communicate Paid Leave-of-Absence—Offer leave of absence to your employees if they need it in instances like:

    • Sick leave

    • Leave for caregivers

    • Mental health days

      • NOTE: in any of these cases, ensure that you have adequate and reliable back-up to cover the shift.

  • Daily Health Checks—Conduct daily health and temperature checks for your staff

  • Limit the Number of Staff Members in Certain Areas—Limit how many employees are in a shared space (like a break room) at a time.

  • Cleaning & Sanitizing Work Stations—Establish regular cleaning and sanitizing procedures for POS systems, kiosks, handheld devices, handles, doorknobs and checkbooks as part.

  • Continually Keep Staff Up-to-Date—Keep your staff up-to-date on important information you would normally deliver in person by establishing either a physical or online dashboard or newsletter.

    • Alternatively, you can host staff meetings in stages with a limited amount of staff members present and safely distanced from one another.

Resources & Additional Information

For additional information relating to COVID-19 and your restaurant/commercial kitchen, refer to:

For resources and government-regulated information, also check out:

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