Are you thinking of putting back the OPEN sign again?

Coronavirus (Covid-19) has severely affected the restaurant and hospitality industry in a significant way. Our industry is very much dependent on cash flow to manage salaries, rents, salaries, credits and fixed costs.

Big and small business players alike are affected which is why as soon as the government restrictions were eased to allow some businesses to operate, many restaurant and food business owners are ready to jump back into the game.

Many restaurants have been practising innovative measures to serve their guests safely. From setting up plexiglass partitions between tables to using single-use menus.

If you are considering reopening and offering dining services in your restaurant, here are additional points to consider as you make that CRITICAL, informed decision.


1. Temperature Checks for Employees

One of a variety of tools to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace are temperature checks. However, employers should be well aware that this is an imperfect measure.

The problem with Covid-19 infections is that many people haven’t had fevers. Last month, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that as much as 25 per cent of infected people don’t show any symptoms at all. And because a person can be a carrier long before they present symptoms (if any), it may be too late before that is confirmed. Others may have already been infected and are equal carriers who are believing that everything is okay behind the face masks and constant hand washing.

But of course, you still need to make every effort to ensure that sick employees do not infect their coworkers. Here are some tips:

  • Inform all your employees about this vital new procedure ahead of time. Supply information either through emails or SMS texts, video calls, phone calls or online group chats. Keep in mind that morale may be affected by this procedure, therefore, providing the right information as well as motivation and inspiration will help support your employees.
  • Invest in a reliable infrared thermometer. Infrared thermometers measure the heat your body emits, generally via the forehead or ear. These devices give results almost instantaneously and do not require body contact. Infrared thermometers have more features than digital stick models, therefore they are often pricier.
  • With regards to assigning who takes the temperatures – If there are no volunteers, make sure that your assigned staff will undergo proper safety training, how to use the infrared thermometer and a knowledge of what constitutes a fever. They should also have an understanding of confidentiality considerations. He or she should also take his/her temperature before taking others’.
  • The temperature checks should be conducted in an assigned area before an employee enters the facility.
  • Ensure that social distancing is observed if there is a queue of employees waiting their turn for their temperatures to be checked.
  • Protect employee privacy by maintaining all information about employee illness as a confidential medical record. You can do a simple Yes or No method – Yes if the temperature is above 100.4 F degrees (38 C) or above, and NO if the temperature is under the appropriate threshold. Another way is to list down the exact temperature taken. Regardless, this recorded information should be treated as a confidential medical document and not placed in an employee’s personnel file.
  • Include information if an employee is exhibiting symptoms such as cough or shortness of breath.
  • If an employee tested positive, the employee should be discreetly notified that he or she has a fever. Let them know that they are not to enter the work environment and that they should begin quarantine procedures for 14 days. They can report to work afterwards if they are fever-free for three (3) days and are otherwise symptom-free as well.


RELATED READ: Surviving Coronavirus: Tips To Strengthen Your Sanitary Measures


2. Maintaining social distancing in the kitchen

There is no way to know for sure if social distancing will be strictly practised in the kitchen. Imagine staying 6 feet apart in a small kitchen with a walk-in cooler?

One option is to operate on a skeleton crew, where kitchen staff multitask to accommodate the number of orders. Might be an excellent solution to achieve that social distancing, but risky when it comes to attaining serving time. So do consider the skill levels of your kitchen staff and which areas they can handle at the same time.

Consider marking areas on the floor so employees will remember the amount of space that is required.

Discourage gathering in the back of the house for the usual chit chats at the end of shifts.

Create a system to remind staff about frequent hand washing and disinfecting as well as regular cleaning and disinfecting of common areas and touch-points throughout the workplace.


RELATED READ: How To Maximize Productivity in Your Restaurant Kitchens or Food Events


3. Strong positive role modelling to inspire self-discipline among staff

Since there is still no vaccine available, all we have to protect ourselves is self-discipline.

And this is where things get tricky.

Your employees may have the desire to follow strict safety rules, but at the end of the day, there is still the chance that one or two of them will forget to do so. It could be by forgetting the 6-foot distance from a coworker or removing off gloves.

Even if your employees have read the latest guidelines, there may be other reasons why they find it difficult to follow, such as an employee who doesn’t believe in science and dismisses the risks.

Not following the guidelines is dangerous, and this is a challenge for your managers and supervisors.

Remember, one of the best ways to get other people to adopt new habits (and maintain them) is to model them.

Ensure that your Managers, Supervisors and Chefs are on the same page when it comes to clarity and consistency of practising safety guidelines.

Keep in mind that role modelling involves not just outwardly practice of the desired behaviour, but also includes subconscious traits — traits that people are impacted by but are unaware of. These subconscious traits are manifested by how your managers speak and present themselves, creating a subconscious impression in others. If a manager or supervisor takes these safety measures lightly, it creates a subconscious reaction that it is okay for the rest of the employees to do so.

Challenge your managers and supervisors – when was the last time they thought about themselves as role models? Sometimes, people need to be reminded, and this one, in particular, has to start from the top – the management.


In Summary:
With zero revenue due to the lockdown, it is no wonder that many restaurant owners are taking a risk and are starting to open their doors for dining patrons. And given that there is still no vaccine for Coronavirus (Covid-19), the choice to dine out is truly a personal one.

However, it is up to us hospitality service providers, to make that choice easier for our dining patrons. And we make it safe for them when we also ensure safety among our employees.


That’s it for this week.
As always, Professional Chefs on Call at Anytime!

Ciao for now,

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