The industry will still see some limitations in place when it opens for outdoor dining on 12 April, including table-service only, along with the rule of six or a restriction on two households. As well as those, customers can expect to check in and mask up as they walk to and from their tables, and to use amenities such as toilets.
Here, Daniel Reid, chief marketing officer at Navitas Safety discusses outdoor management while providing an insight as to how businesses can reopen their outdoor spaces safely…
Outdoor management: safety and social distancing
Businesses have been tasked not only with reopening their doors after a terrible time of uncertainty, but have now been forced to adapt their entire way of running in order to meet new government guidelines. What were once busy bars and bustling dance floors, restaurants and pubs will now be met with reduced numbers, social distancing and an increased food safety standard.
In order to meet this new need, and as the term ‘outdoor dining’ would suggest, customers are unable to enter the premises of a pub or restaurant, unless it is to use the toilet, meaning that all payments must also be taken at their table.
Social distancing measures also remain in place; therefore pubs, restaurants and hotels should make it a priority to enforce a one-way system throughout the entirety of their premises, even if it is outdoors, to maintain the safety of both staff and guests.
This should also be carried out with seating arrangements, too. All tables should have adequate space surrounding them, providing a sufficient two metre distance between diners and the table next to them.
To limit physical human interaction, businesses should provide visitors with an online booking system with table numbers clearly assigned at the point of booking. This reduces face-to-face contact and also puts a halt to people turning up unannounced.
How can restaurants prepare?
It is safe to say that after 12 months of lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, people are eagerly waiting to reopen their businesses and consumers are just as excited to visit their favourite restaurants again.
With that in mind, much more is required to go into this than just simply reopening the doors. First and foremost, it is vital that all businesses and staff are up to date with all Covid-19 work-related changes.
Businesses should also either complete or update risk assessments covering Covid-19 measures prior to reopening, to ensure adequate controls have been put in place to keep staff and customers safe.
As with all places of work, the Covid-19 declaration very much remains essential. All staff are required to declare if they are experiencing symptoms and if they have been in contact with anybody who has tested positive or is showing symptoms. Those that have, must remain at home – similarly with visitors.
We suggest that businesses operate using a ‘pod working’ scheme. This means that the same staff work the same shifts where possible, reducing the amount of mixing and in turn, limiting the risk of infections.
We know well-trained and attentive personnel are essential to positive experiences. Many staff will, of course, be furloughed and may have been for some time, so before reopening, it would be prudent to think about remotely retraining employees.
Retraining employees on basic safety procedures will be crucial to customer satisfaction and wellbeing and Online safety training courses can offer rigorous, time-friendly refreshers.
Once all relevant and necessary training has been completed, it is time for businesses to assess their space, making any changes in order to meet government guidelines, ensuring they adhere to current restrictions.
We would also recommend the use of digital menus, either via a QR code or website link. This not only mitigates reduces the risk of spreading the likes of coronavirus, but it is also a more sustainable option, too. Where digital menus aren’t available, all physical menus must be disposable or sufficiently disinfected in between uses.
Digital food safety
After three lockdowns, consumers across all sectors are counting down to socialising and returning back to their favourite restaurants and bars again.
Staff are going to be stretched when businesses reopen due to the sheer demand, so are likely to struggle to stay on top of food safety tasks which are paper-based.
Moving to a tech-based approach means digital food safety management systems can take care of those essential but time and resource consuming safety processes.
We would recommend using a digital food safety system. This will alleviate time absorbing tasks, allowing staff to easily monitor and log food temperature readings quickly and accurately, as all of the information is already available to hand. You can also complete digital cleaning checklists, to ensure that hygiene standards in your kitchens are always maintained to the highest standard.
These systems will alert staff as to what safety tasks need to be completed on a daily basis, making sure that nothing is ever forgotten.
These checklists form part of a centralised safety system to store all information digitally and help businesses to actively track their compliance in line with current food safety standards.
A key element of Covid-19 safety is to ensure thorough sanitisation between each booking. Servers will need to ensure they have cleaned down all tables, chairs and any on table items before the next guest arrives.
As front of house staff will already be using some form of tablet to take orders, simply adding a digital food safety app to this tablet would allow servers to complete a digital cleaning check between each sitting. This checklist will cover all items that need to be cleaned, ensuring nothing is ever missed and hygiene standards are consistently maintained.
As Covid-19 risk assessments are crucial to how restaurants can prepare for reopening, these can be completed digitally via this system.
Any incidents or Covid-19 related cases are also RIDDOR reportable, and by having a digital process, this ensures that all evidence is collated, along with how and why the incident occurred and how it was resolved. In doing so, businesses will have sufficient evidence to prove that the incident was dealt with correctly, and that it won’t happen again – all in line with health and safety practices.