Attention all owners, managers and PIC
Congratulations! The announcement yesterday by Governor Hogan was the next step in reopening and is very exciting. It has been a hard time for all in the industry and you have taken the brunt of the pain. For those of you that cannot provide outdoor seating, we are thinking about you and hoping our state keeps moving forward with safe opening of indoor dining.
For everyone set up for outdoor dining, it is exciting to be able to see your regulars and do what you do best – serving great food. However, remember there are guidelines that you must follow to protect your guests and your staff from spreading the virus.
I have compiled a few good resources for you to look at while you are planning your reopening. They are listed below. In addition to the excellent guidance from the FDA and National Restaurant Association I would like to remind you of a few key points.
Disinfectants are not sanitizers. They should not be used on Food Contact Surfaces. If they are the surface should be cleaned, rinsed and then sanitized in accordance with industry standards.
Retrain staff on proper glove use. Some key points would be to never rewash gloves, they are a single task utensil, they should not be worn in replacement of handwashing, they can be a big source of cross contamination when used incorrectly. Food handlers should wear gloves. Typically, servers and bartenders should not be wearing gloves. If they do, they must change and wash hands before putting on a fresh pair just as food handlers would.
Remind staff hand sanitizers are not a replacement to handwashing. They should only be used after proper handwashing when handling food.
Update your employee illness agreements. Many restaurants do not have staff sign the FDA forms for employee illness. Having these forms ensures that employee understand what they should be reporting. I recommend having an addition form specific to COVID-19 symptoms and exposure that the employee should be reporting to you. If you need assistance with the forms, we can help you with employee illness training.
Flush your water systems, including hot water heater, all faucets and any where water may have been standing. If you have a decorative fountain you should ensure they are safe as well. Legionnaires’ disease is associated with water droplets that are inhaled from water containing the bacteria. Standing water could pose a greater risk.
Train your staff on how to handle COVID-19 related issues with guests. Issues like too many guests at a table or maintaining facility-imposed time limits at tables could create problems. An improperly trained employee could escalate a problem unnecessarily. Have a plan and train your staff on what the proper procedures should be to handle these situations.
Links for resources:
FDA Checklist for reopening a closed restaurant.
National Restaurant Association Guidance Document
Free Training on COVID-19 for restaurants and food handler training until May 31st