Guide to re-opening restaurants from July 4th

The government published its guidance for re-opening restaurants and hospitality businesses to open safely from 4th July in the UK. This is a revised version of the document which runs to 43 pages. You can access the full version of the document here.

Businesses which are permitted to open have certain criteria which they must adhere to. I won’t go into the details for non-restaurants here, but you can check the details on the government site if you need to.

There are 8 areas for restaurants to consider in the document linked above:

  1. Thinking about risk
  2. Keeping your customers and visitors safe
  3. Who should go to work
  4. Social distancing for workers
  5. Cleaning the workplace
  6. Personal protective equipment (PPE) and face coverings
  7. Workforce management
  8. Inbound and outbound goods

The majority of the document (sections 2-8) is a set of checklists of things to consider before re-opening and is a useful tool to guide you through the process. You then need to convert this into your formal risk assessment document (a sample template is below).

And you also need to keep some data on all of your customers (if you didn’t already through tools such as reservation systems).

Update: 29 June 2020

The government published further guidance for food-related businesses. Much of this goes over the same ground, but it provides further restaurant-related guidance also.

You can access the HTML guide here.

Additional measures discussed include shared accommodation and managing employees who may exhibit symptoms (as I mentioned below which seemed to be missing from the PDF guide).

NHS Track and Trace

One key requirement for restaurants is that they now need to keep a temporary record of customers and visitors for 21 days, in a way that is manageable for your business, and assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed.

This could help contain clusters or outbreaks. Many businesses that take bookings already have systems for recording their customers and visitors – including restaurants, hotels, and hair salons. Boris Johnson said he has introduced the requirement as per other countries but did not explicitly state if ALL guests have to be recorded, or one per household, or one per table. However, the British press has stated that ALL guests have to be recorded. This is the safest option.

Risk Assessment

You need to do this. The risk assessment will help you decide whether you have done everything you need to.

There are interactive tools available to support you from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) online. The website is a bit of a rabbit-hole as it seems to lead you to a generic risk assessment which you should be doing anyway as a restaurant. For the COVID-specific restaurant risk assessment information, click here, but it’s quite broad.

Areas of Risk to Consider

There is a good risk assessment template available at HandsHQ (last update 20 May at the time of writing) which should get you started. You will need to add sections relevant to your business but it covers the key points including the following.

  • Transmission from non-essential workers
  • Individual workers at a higher risk of contracting COVID 19
  • Risk of COVID 19 transmission – Staff travelling to and from work
  • Social distance when using the premises
  • Welfare & hygiene – handwashing, sanitation facilities and toilets
  • Food safety
  • Infection control
  • Members of the public and protecting servers staff
  • Stress – including mental health
  • Delivery drivers and riders – the risk of COVID 19 transmission
  • Emergency incident – accident or fire within the premises

I would also add a section about employees returning to work and how you manage employees who may exhibit symptoms and double-check this against the formal government checklists in their guidance.

You must share the results of your risk assessment with your workforce. Consider publishing the results on your website (employers with over 50 workers are expected to do so).

If you have any recommendations or links to excellent resources, post them in the comments.

Demonstrate Your Analysis

You then need to put up a poster and display this on your website to show you have completed the assessment and are complying.

You can download the official poster here.

A Note on PPE

The HSE states that face coverings are not PPE as they do not protect people from work-related hazardous substances. The HSE also says they may be marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure against coronavirus. PPE for protection against coronavirus is generally only required for certain healthcare activities. In a non-clinical setting, there is no need to provide different PPE than you would normally have provided before the outbreak started. This is echoed in the government guidance document.

You will, however, see PPE in the template risk assessment and, while not necessary, may be beneficial to rebuild trust with the public. It’s your decision and you may be lead there by your customers and your teams.

Live Entertainment

For many restaurants, pubs and bars, providing entertainment such as recorded music, live sports broadcasts, quizzes, live musicians or comedians are an important part of their business. The guidance says:

  • At this time, venues should not permit live performances, including drama, comedy and music, to take place in front of a live audience to mitigate the risks of aerosol transmission – from either the performer(s) or their audience.
  • All venues should ensure that steps are taken to avoid people needing to unduly raise their voices to each other. This includes, but is not limited to, refraining from playing music or broadcasts that may encourage shouting, singing or chanting, including if played at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult.

So, music is not banned as some rumours suggest, but you need to keep it down so people can enjoy normal conversations and not have to project further than normal. Most restaurants won’t be affected.

In Summary

With the tools listed above and the comprehensive government guideance document, you should be able to quickly assess and plan to get your restaurant open in a safe manner and give your returning guests confidence you are doing your part to mitigate further risks and the spread of the virus.

If you do have any questions, feel free to get in touch or post a message in the comments. This is new territory for all of us, so sharing and open discussion is the quickest way to get to the end goal.

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