As lock-down eases, restaurants, cafes, and bars are reopening for service which includes dine-in, home delivery and take away. Needless to say, that comes with strict guidelines for everyone in the industry, right from maintaining effective hygiene to following social distancing rules. Necessary steps have been taken by the food safety standards (Australia) to place obligations on food businesses. Hence, ensuring that the meal they prepare is safe and suitable to eat and the environment remains healthy and hygienic for both food handlers and visitors. The objective is to accept the "NEW" normal with maturity and safety.
Let's begin with addressing Chief Health Officer (CHO) Directions and Mandatory Requirements, a food business must comply to:
- Complete and Submit a COVID Safety Plan to the Department of Health before reopening or expanding your restaurant beyond takeaway. Display a COVID Safety Plan certificate, you can find the same in the plan.
- The floor should have marking where customers may queue such as entrance, washrooms, and service counters
- Hand sanitisers should be available for customers and staff members unless proper handwashing facilities are available
- Frequent cleaning of the venue should be practiced
- No customer should be allowed to bring their own food for consumption at the venue
- Liquor won't be served to a customer unless a meal is also served along with it.
- No beverage or alcohol will be served to a customer if they are not seated at a table
- A maximum of ten customers will be allowed at a table
- Each customer or a group should be seated at separate tables
The CHO’s directions are laws and it is an offense to go against any direction given by them.
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Moving further, let's discuss the things you need to do post reopening:
- Hygiene Practices
The staff should be given proper training on hygiene practices to avoid the spread of the virus. They need to keep up with hand hygiene when preparing food, before and after using the washroom, handling money, or post touching their face or hair. Apart from that, they should avoid touching areas that come in direct contact with a customer and strictly avoid touching their eyes, mouth, or nose. We highly recommend washing hands more frequently than wearing gloves as it offers more protection against the virus but if you're wearing gloves remember to change them regularly between activities to avoid contamination. Lastly, physical distancing should be maintained at all costs where needed right from allocating tables to the visitors to serving them while making sure that tables also kept at an adequate distance from one another.
- Strict Cleaning And Sanitisation Should Be Practised
Every equipment, facility, transport vehicle, food contact surfaces, and utensils should be thoroughly cleaned and sanitised. Shared surfaces should be cleaned more often, at least twice a day that includes door handles, bathrooms, service counters, and handrails. We recommend using chlorine-based bleach disinfectants for cleaning. Furthermore, as the staff will be using disposable gloves, disposable face masks, or other items, managers need to ensure that they place them in a rubbish bag before disposing them of with other domestic waste followed by hand sanitisation after handling these items.
- Takeaways and Delivery
Ensure that your food business is registered with Environmental Health and that it complies with the requirements of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code. Good hygiene practices should be followed that include packaging food while keeping all hygiene protocols in mind, maintaining temperature control of food during delivery, physical distancing at the point of handing over the food to the customer. Lastly, customers should be informed if the food should be consumed immediately or refrigerated and not left out of temperature control.
- Set A Two-Hour Limit For Visitors
A food business should limit a customer's visit to two-hours as it will help them in contact tracing in the event of an outbreak of Coronavirus. This rule is not just limited to restaurants, it also applies to places of worship, any indoor guided activity, gyms, pubs, and libraries.
Food business owners need to promote cashless payments as much as possible. In case any amount of cash is exchanged, ensure that the respective staff member has washed his/her hands with soap or water or has immediately sanitised their hands after handling the money.