Owning a restaurant during the COVID-19 outbreak requires numerous changes. While dining rooms still can’t be open for sit-down service, many restaurants are open for curbside and delivery, keeping businesses alive.

At Eco Bear, we understand the difficulties restaurants face during this pandemic. We are here for you to help you understand how it affects you and more importantly, how you can keep your staff and customers safe throughout this time. While the guidelines are ever-changing in the hopes of having sit-down service available in the near future, for now, we’ll focus on restaurants operating without dining rooms and offering curbside and delivery service.

Understanding COVID-19

Understanding the facts about COVID-19, how it spreads, and what precautions restaurants must take is crucial to your company’s success. Here’s what we know from federal and state resources including the CDC:

  • COVID-19 spreads easily from person-to-person which is why the 6-foot social distancing rule remains in effect.
  • COVID-19 spreads from objects/surfaces to people, which is why frequent disinfection of all surfaces and areas is crucial.
  • People infected with COVID-19 don’t always show symptoms, but they can still carry/transmit the illness.
  • COVID-19 symptoms include a fever of 100.4 or higher, cough, difficulty breathing, loss of taste or smell, sore muscles, chills, and a sore throat. Some people only get one symptom, while others get several.
  • Anyone with symptoms should isolate themselves for 10 days from the date of the first symptom and another 3 days after symptoms end.
  • Anyone that’s been exposed to an infected person (contact within 6 feet for 10 minutes for more), should isolate themselves for 14 days.
  • Symptoms take between 2 and 14 days to show up after exposure.
  • Anyone 65 and older, pregnant, with a chronic illness, or with a compromised immune system are high risk and should limit any exposure.

Precautions for COVID-19

Keeping your restaurant, staff, and customers safe requires certain precautions that you must implement to reduce the risk of spreading the illness. They include:

  • All staff members should remain a 6-foot distance at all times. If this isn’t possible due to the structure of the restaurant, each employee should wear a proper face covering and the tasks should be staggered as much as possible to reduce exposure
  • All customers should keep a 6-foot distance while waiting for food if they are present at your restaurant (only household family members may stand together)
  • Hang signage around the restaurant that promotes proper handwashing (at least 20 seconds with soap and water) or use of alcohol sanitizer 
  • Hang signage telling any customer with symptoms of respiratory illness including a cough or fever to not enter the premises
  • Provide methods of hand cleansing upon entering the premises, such as hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
  • Have proper handwashing stations throughout the kitchen and back-of-the-house for employees to wash their hands after eating, going to the bathroom, touching an exposed surface, or coming into contact with another person
  • Consider giving high-risk employees jobs that won’t involve any contact, even 6-foot contact

Sick Employees

Having simple and effective sick policies during this time is crucial to your restaurant’s safety. We recommend the following:

  • Allow employees to self-monitor their symptoms. If they feel ill, let them stay home without requiring a doctor’s note. Any person with any symptoms should isolate themselves for 10 days plus 3 days after symptoms subside.
  • Trace anyone that had contact with a symptomatic employee. This includes all contacts 48 hours prior to the start of symptoms. Anyone with close contact during that time should self-isolate for 14 days.
  • Monitor employees throughout their shift, ensuring that no one has symptoms. If anyone looks ill, coughs, or complains of a headache/fever, carefully remove them from the premises with as little contact as possible occurring between the infected person and anyone else.
  • If you feel it’s necessary, you can enforce employer checks before employees start their shifts and one more time throughout the shift to ensure the safety of everyone at your restaurant

Pick-Up and Delivery of Food

All food is either pick-up or delivery right now. To keep your customers safe, all food should be in packaging that would make any tampering obvious. Once the kitchen packs the food, there should be no contact with it by using the following methods:

  • All food should be completely covered in protective containers before giving them to delivery drivers
  • All necessary items should be included in the bag so that there’s no contact with the food once it leaves the kitchen, whether it’s for pick-up or delivery
  • Delivery drivers should have clean and washable containers to hold the food that allows for as little contact as possible and frequent disinfection
  • Delivery drivers must have a second container to hold the food, open bags shouldn’t be stored in a delivery driver’s car
  • Food must be kept at proper temperatures (41 degrees or lower for cold and 135 degrees or higher for hot) if it will sit for more than 30 minutes
  • Social distancing must be adhered to for both pick-up and delivery, keeping a six-foot distance between employees and customers
  • All employees and customers should wear a face covering when exchanging the food
  • Use touchless ordering, including online or over the phone ordering
  • Use touchless payment methods whenever possible, including online payments or credit card machines that employees can hold out to customers for card insertion
  • Employees should suggest porch drop off of food during deliveries
  • Curbside pickup should have a contactless option, such as placing the food on a table (in the bag) or on a tray so the customer can remove the bag without touching the employee and everyone should maintain a 6-foot distance

Disinfection

Proper disinfection must occur frequently at all touchpoints at the restaurant as well as in any delivery driver’s car. Use of EPA-registered disinfectants is necessary to eradicate the threat of any exposure to the virus. 

Restaurants should frequently disinfect all commonly touched areas where customers have contact as well as in the back-of-the-house. Limit use of shared utensils, tools, and shared countertop space and ensure proper disinfection of all items after use.

Delivery drivers should disinfect all areas of their car including the seat, steering wheel, radio knobs, door handles, and gear shifters. Delivery drivers should use hand sanitizer after each delivery and wash his/her hands each time he/she comes back to the restaurant for another delivery. 

At Eco-Bear, we are here to help you with your disinfection services. We’d be happy to discuss our services and help you understand how we can help eradicate the threat of COVID-19 from your restaurant.