The hospitality industry has been hit incomparably hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. With the UK having now entered its third lockdown and no clear end in sight, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that we’re in this for the long haul and must adapt to survive.
Since the government’s last briefing on restaurant, café, and food service opening, it seems that the route out of lockdown can be found in decreased capacity and stringent measures to curtail any possible spread of the virus. This means that businesses in the hospitality sector will need to adopt even more sweeping changes to their usual operations if they’re to be allowed to reopen.
Much of the industry has already taken steps to mitigate the risk of virus transmission to guests and staff, but for those with work still to do, here are some of the best ways to get your restaurant ready for a post-lockdown reopening.
1. Offer contactless payment options
Contactless payments have taken off in a big way during the COVID-19 pandemic, in part due to fears that physical money could act as a transmission vector for the virus. Fortunately, it isn’t hard to switch over to contactless payments and many venues already have the capabilities in place.
The benefits of contactless are also well worth exploring, and the transaction speed and ease of use you’ll get out of a contactless card reader will make it much easier for you to stick with this technology even after the pandemic subsides.
2. Restrict employees and guests
Since interpersonal contact is one of the biggest risk factors for the spread of coronavirus, it will be necessary for most hospitality venues to restrict their guest count and run at a lower capacity than usual. By allowing fewer people to enter the restaurant, you’ll stand a better chance of spacing covers out far enough for them not to become a risk to one another.
The prospect of fewer diners also means that you may need to cut down on staff numbers. For those who are working, it’s important to make sure that they are adequately spaced out in line with a social distancing risk assessment – which could get tricky if you have a particularly cramped kitchen or service area.
3. Take a strict line on hygiene
Even without the added pressures of a pandemic, you should be enforcing strict hygiene practices across your entire premises. This means ensuring that employees are washing their hands with soap and water regularly, whilst also requiring all guests and staff to wear facemasks whenever they’re walking around the communal areas of the premises.
Hand sanitiser has become a staple of the retail world since the pandemic began, and it must now be adopted across the entirety of the hospitality industry. Provide sanitation stations, and be prepared to offer customers masks and cleansers if they don’t have their own.
4. Operate a virtual queue
Queues are not ideal when you’re trying to keep customers further apart. Of course, you want to be doing a roaring trade, but having people hang around outside will not help you to stick to hygiene best practices.
By taking names and sending alerts to mobile phones as tables become available, you can keep guests happy whilst ensuring that your premises are safe and COVID-secure.
5. Clean more often
It goes without saying that cleaning is an essential part of keeping coronavirus at bay, but restaurants have been put under a particular spotlight and so must up their game if they want to avoid future closures.
By wiping down and disinfecting surfaces and counters on a constant cycle, you’ll be able to keep your premises clean whilst putting the minds of consumers and health officials at rest.
6. Deploy temperature tests
A high temperature is among the most common symptoms of the novel coronavirus, and any customer that appears to have a fever should be asked to request delivery and leave the premises.
Although customer service still stands as an incredibly important feature of the restaurant trade, you simply can’t put your staff and reputation at risk by allowing potentially infected diners to attend your premises. For that reason, it makes sense to invest in a temperature test gun that allows staff to identify any diners who present a cause for concern.
A new normal for the hospitality industry
The COVID-19 pandemic has decimated footfall and continues to cause serious problems for restaurants and hospitality businesses across the UK.
When the current lockdown is lifted, it seems that hospitality venues will be able to reopen – but only with measures in place to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus. Naturally, many businesses cannot afford to be investing in social distancing aids at this time, but there are other options available. With just a few clicks, you could get a £1000 loan for your business – helping you to purchase all the equipment you need to protect your livelihood.
Moving forward, the UK’s vaccine programme has provided a glimmer of hope that we may one day return to business as usual. For now, though, social distancing truly is the order of the day.