A Restaurant’s Guide to Fighting COVID-19 During the Winter Months
The restaurant industry has suffered greatly from fighting COVID-19. With the arrival of winter, restaurant owners are facing new challenges. This three step guide for restaurants on how to fight COVID-19 during the winter will help you keep your staff and customers safe while supporting your business efforts.
1. Be Vigilant When It Comes to Cleaning and Disinfecting
Establish a routine of cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that people need to touch a lot with their hands. This includes:
- Door handles
- Sink handles
- Cash registers
- Payment devices
- Receipt trays
- Condiment holders
- Bathroom stalls
Clean frequently touched surfaces a minimum of once a day. If you are permitting indoor dining and there are shared objects, then be sure to clean these items between every table transfer to a different customer party. Shared items consist of receipt trays, condiment holders and table payment units.
Purchase cleaning products that meet the disinfecting standards established by the EPA and are proper for the items that need to be cleaned. Make sure that the disinfecting substance stays on the surface for the appropriate amount of time as stated by the manufacturer. Check the instructions on the cleaning label and share the information with any staff members who you’ve assigned to cleaning duty.
During the cleaning process, staff members should wear the proper equipment, such as gloves and masks, for their own personal protection. Create a cleaning routine, and train your employees to make sure that they are disinfecting your establishment thoroughly and properly.
EPA Approved Disinfectants for Fighting COVID-19
In the restaurant industry, fighting COVID-19 requires using a disinfectant that the EPA has approved for surfaces that come into contact with food. If you must sanitize a surface because it has been contaminated with blood or a bodily fluid, then the CDC recommends the following procedure.
- Wash the surface
- Rinse the surface
- Sanitize using a disinfectant that’s safe for food contact surfaces
- Rinse the surface again
- Re-sanitize the surface with a food safe disinfectant
Make sure that any residue from cleaning and disinfecting substances are removed from the tops of tables. If you miss this step, then one of your customers could experience an allergic reaction or another health issue. Store disinfectants and cleaning products in a safe place away from food storage and prep areas to avoid contamination.
The Importance of Hand Washing
Fighting COVID-19 requires restaurants to establish strict rules around hand washing. For instance, you and your staff should always wear gloves when taking out garbage bags, but make sure that everyone is aware that they must wash their hands after removing the gloves. Employees should wash their hands when:
- Completing food preparation
- Touching clean dishware or utensils
- Putting on single-use gloves
They should also wash their hands after:
- Going to the restroom
- Touching their face, clothing or hair
- Touching money or credit cards
- Using electronic devices
- Eating or drinking
- Changing to a different task
2. Review Your Establishment’s Ventilation System
COVID-19 is more commonly passed through close contact between people than it is through the air. However, evidence of airborne transmission exists. This means that battling COVID-19 requires restaurants to review their establishment’s ventilation system.
Confirm that the ventilation system in your restaurant is working properly. Increase the circulation of outside air as much as you can. When weather temperatures permit, keep windows and doors open. Also, look into ways to increase the airflow in your establishment.
3. Modify Your Dining Room Layout
Modify your dining room layout to keep your customers 6 feet apart. You should also limit the number of patrons that you allow to enter your restaurant. Offer curbside service or delivery options if you can. Ask your customers to stay inside their vehicles to pick up food or when they’re waiting to be seated inside.
Consider adding outdoor seating if you have the space for it. Some restaurants are installing outdoor heaters to keep patrons comfortable while eating outside. Heaters may allow you to offer outdoor dining later into the year.
Fighting COVID-19 to Stay in Business
The COVID-19 battle requires consistent and extensive cleaning using the proper products. By embracing the advice of disease experts, you’ll show your employees and customers that you’re committed to their health and safety, inspiring them to continue supporting your restaurant.