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  • Writer's pictureEco Cleaning Services

Restaurant Reopening Checklist: How To Safely Get Back To Business

It doesn't matter which way you look at it, there's been a lot of doom and gloom the past few months. kay, since 2020 kicked off what seems like 7 years ago. But with high streets stores already opening and pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants soon able to welcome customers inside for the first time since lockdown began in March, England is on the highway to normality once again.

The big difference will be safety, which needs to become your number one priority.

Of course, despite the easing of restrictions, a trip to your local boozer or your favourite place to eat will be a very different experience from how it was before the coronavirus outbreak and certain restrictions will be put in place, from updated shift patterns to mandatory table service to the need for much more hand sanitiser. But while we await the exact government guidelines, we wanted to use our expertise to write a reopening checklist for restaurants and food businesses.

From Nando's to Las Iguanas, Bella Italia to Côte Brasserie we have some pretty amazing clients in the tasty food sector -- and we've been helping them get ready to reopen with the following checklist. Moving forward, safety will require a big effort to maintain your basic hygiene standards, recognise the areas where greater attention will be required and adding extra checks alongside your normal daily opening policies. Here's what you need to know:

Step 1: Notify Your Local Authority

Whether your simply planning to restart your business operations or your you're looking to change the activities your registered for to include takeaway or delivery services, the first thing you need to do is let your local authority know and keep them informed.

Step 2: Clean & Disinfect All Food Prep Areas

From the work surfaces to your equipment and utensils, every area that is used for food prep needs to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected (see our Essential Cleaning Guidelines for more information). This should include:

  • Perform a full site assessment to determine whether you can do a thorough deep clean yourself or if a professional deep cleaning service is required (see our Covid-19 cleaning initiative

  • Stock up on effective cleaning and disinfecting products that are safe for use on food prep surfaces.

  • Establish a training session for staff to ensure they are aware of your new cleaning procedures and the suitable dilution rates of cleaning products.

  • Set up a system that clearly informs all employees of the increased frequency of cleaning and disinfection procedures, and the importance of paying particular attention to any frequent-touch points, shared equipment and high-traffic areas.

Step 3: Check For Any Evidence of Pest Activity

After a period of closure as long as this, there is a chance of pest activity. To do this, look for any evidence that suggests there has been pest activity in your premises. To do this effectively, check for any signs of damage, smears on the walls and doors, packaging that is either stained, gnawed or clawed, footprints evident in the dust, animal droppings, the smell of urine, feathers or any signs of insects -- bodies, larvae, cocoons or even egg casings

If you find any of the above, arrange for a pest control service to visit your site before you reopen.

Step 4: Hand Washing & Cleaning Equipment

The next thing you'll want to do check off is your stock of hand washing and cleaning materials, such as soap, sanitiser and paper towels. This includes:

  • Checking all your equipment and consumables are still within the recommended use-by dates.

  • Stock up on suitable cleaning consumables so that they are readily available for both staff and customers.

  • Train your employees on how to effectively wash their hands according to the latest government guidelines and put up signs that remind people to wash their hands more frequently than usual. According to Public Health England, this should be for 20 seconds with warm water and soap (or sanitiser where there is no water and soap).

Step 5: Hand Washing Stations

To ensure you stop the spread of the virus, it's critical to provide adequate hand-washing stations throughout your establishment, especially in all your food production, preparation and communal areas. If this isn't possible with hot running water, the best alternative is to provide hand sanitiser stations at obvious locations.

Step 6: Check & Clean Your Equipment

One of the most important areas of your cleaning checklist is the thorough cleaning and disinfecting of your equipment, which you can do by following the below points:

  • Thoroughly clean all equipment and surfaces before you begin restocking and reopening your business. This should be done in both your on-site cooking areas, your restroom facilities and all areas where customers will be allowed to use.

  • Assess whether any of your equipment requires a maintenance checkup due to the long period of inaction.

  • Run dishwashers and glass-washers on their hottest cycle before using them properly.

  • Flush through all your taps and other equipment with water systems before reopening and consider taking action to reduce the risk of Legionella. 

Step 7: Social Distancing

Perhaps one of the most hotly debated topics around restaurants reopening is that of how to enforce social distancing in dining rooms with the current government guidelines changing from the 'two-metre- rule to a "one metre plus with added conditions. These include changes to shift patterns, mandatory table service and more use of hand sanitiser. However, there are other considerations you can make to reduce the risks:

  • Consider steps to minimise staff-customer interactions.

  • Consider how you will communicate with, update and (where necessary) train staff in new procedures.

  • Set up a policy whereby you are easily able to identify employees that are a higher risk and find ways to tweak their role to be safer.

  • Create bubbles of smaller teams to reduce staff mixing.

  • Implement contactless payments wherever possible in an effort to minimise physical interaction between staff and customers.

Get ready to reopen safely

The priority for every business right now is safety, especially those in the food serving industry. It's about making sure you, your employees and your customers are not at any risk when they enter your eatery, so don’t rush your reopening. Take it steady, be thorough, assess every aspect of your business, hire a professional cleaning company to clean and disinfect your restaurant or cafe, and then only open your doors when you are absolutely sure you can uphold social distancing and sanitisation guidelines to minimise the risk and spread of COVID-19.

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