The Province of BC ordered restaurants to close dining rooms in late March due to the coronavirus pandemic, and it’s been a very long seven weeks! Although restaurants were allowed to continue takeout and delivery service, most restaurateurs are looking ahead and planning to resume services as the government begins to ease some of the COVID-19 restrictions. There’s still a number of details to be worked out, like boosting staffing, implementing new health protocols, and creating techniques on how to manage customer behaviour.
Here’s five quick tips on how you can help make sure that your restaurant is ready to re-open as soon as it’s possible:
1. Stay on top of the fundamentals.
Although it might sound like common sense, it’s shockingly easy for people to fall back into their old patterns and let the fundamentals of cleanliness and sanitation go by the wayside. One of the simplest and easiest things a restaurant operator can do is putting up handwashing signs to remind staff of the proper method and 20-second duration to wash their hands to kill the coronavirus. Regularly cleaning and sanitizing countertops, table tops and other hard surfaces, PIN pads, and other regular touchpoints is essential in keeping your restaurant infection-free.
2. Enforce social distancing.
This is a tough one for sit-down restaurants, as it almost demands a reduction in maximum seating capacity. It will be wise (if not outright required) for restaurants to make sure that their patrons keep at least a 6-foot distance between tables when seated to stay on the right side of social distancing guidelines. That will mean physically spacing out your dining room tables and measuring the distance between chairs on all sides as they’d be positioned with people sitting in them. Marking these new table positions on the floor with masking tape is a good way to prevent ‘table drift’ as people use the space and potentially move the tables and chairs too close together.
3. Think outside the box.
Some retailers are using some very creative thinking to solve this problem. One private liquor store retailer in Vancouver is using infrared security cameras to scan the body temperature of customers as they enter the store, and if their body temperature indicates a potential fever an alarm sounds! While this might not be every business owner’s cup of tea, it’s definitely an example of thinking outside the box to solve a unique problem like COVID-19! Some restaurants are proposing that silverware won’t be left on tables between guests but only brought out with the meal; some are planning to only accept credit or debit cards and not cash to limit the customer-to-staff contact points; and some are even planning on providing their wait staff with full PPE (like gloves and clear face shields) when they’re on shift.
4. Use an approved sanitizing agent.
Although sanitizer is in short supply right now, if you’re trying to kill coronavirus then it’s important to make sure you’re using a sanitizing agent that is both foodsafe and has been confirmed to actually kill coronavirus. The Government of Canada has published a list of approved sanitizing agents to kill COVID-19, and they are updating it regularly. You can see the list on their website by clicking here.
5. Don’t forget about the biggest touchpoint of all: your floor!
When people are thinking about surfaces in their restaurants that need to be disinfected, they think about touchpoints that come into contact with their hands…but most people forget about what they touch with their feet! Your restaurant’s floor is the biggest touchpoint of all – literally every person that comes into your restaurant touches your floor, and they touch your floor with shoes that have touched the floor and ground of every place they’ve been since the pandemic began. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently conducted a study in March 2020 on the transmission vectors of COVID-19 in hospital wards in Wuhan, China. The study found that the coronavirus was widely distributed on floors throughout the hospital, even in areas that did not have direct contact with infected patients. Gravity and air flow cause most virus droplets to float to the ground, where they can be picked up by shoes and carried to new areas. The CDC study shows that 50% of the shoe bottoms of ICU medical staff tested positive for coronavirus, and theorizes that contaminated shoes spread the virus to areas that had no direct contact with COVID-19 patients. The study authors highly recommended that persons disinfect shoe soles before walking out of wards containing COVID-19 patients.
Sanitizing shoe soles doesn’t need to be difficult or time-consuming; with a Grizzly Sanitize sanitizing mat system, it’s remarkably simple, inexpensive, and is a great way to make your customers feel secure and comfortable in the measures you’re taking to make their safety a priority.