With over 72,000 restaurants, bars and cafes making the most of the government’s Eat Out to Help Out Scheme launched this month, Bureau Veritas has said the hospitality sector will need to exercise a ‘nimble’ approach to hygiene and health and safety in order to meet the challenges of this busy time.
It comes as restaurateurs around the UK have faced a dining frenzy since last week following the launch of Eat Out to Help Out, the Government scheme offering customers up to 50% off their bill at participating restaurants, cafes and pubs during August. Yet despite the fledgling success of the scheme, there remains concerns that pubs and other hospitality venues in England may need to close to allow schools to reopen in September, especially if there’s a potential spike in coronavirus cases in the coming weeks.
With this in mind, and with many customers returning, buoyed by the confidence of strict hygiene measures, social distancing and ‘track and trace’ systems, Bureau Veritas has suggested that adopting a nimble approach and continuously adapting the protocols implemented in recent months will be critical to keeping hospitality venues open.
Tracy Wain, Food Safety Technical Manager at Bureau Veritas, comments: “It is great to see restaurants, bars and cafes experiencing a resurgence since the introduction of the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme. Lets’ hope that the hospitality sector does not return to an uncertain footing when it comes to controlling the spread of coronavirus cases post-lockdown.
“There’s already talk about potentially closing pubs and restaurants to facilitate school reopenings in September, which highlights the huge task still facing the hospitality industry. This includes demonstrating to the government and the wider public that its hygiene, health and safety credentials are fit to stem the transmission of this disease.
“As businesses continue to adjust to this new normal, this can only be done by creating a nimble culture of quick and rapid reactive response to any risks as and when they occur. Ultimately, daily monitoring and continuous adjustment to operational practices will determine the sector’s ability to bounce back economically.”
One of the most significant areas that needs constant review and improvements are industry-wide track and trace systems where venues must take details of all customers when entering the premises, so that they can be traced and contacted in the event of an outbreak.
Tracy adds: “The key thing is matching the required government and industry guidelines released in recent months to the style of the business, and given the evolving nature of the situation, this isn’t yet an exact science. There is little value in writing a risk assessment if the business does not have the means or resources to follow it. It is vital that the risk assessment is based on the practicalities of delivering the service.
“The good news is where there are challenges, there are also opportunities. The hospitality sector has been incredibly inventive when it comes to diversifying and trying new approaches. Whether that’s restaurants offering home delivery packs, new takeaway and delivery services, even alternative menus which are more suited to current guidelines and operational restrictions – and it’s this resilient and adaptive approach that will stand the sector in good stead as it presses ahead with economic recovery.”
As part of its commitment to helping the food industry navigate the coronavirus pandemic, the Bureau Veritas Food Safety team has created a free webinar on the current government and industry guidelines, as well as how to effectively manage outbreaks.