Now that restaurants from Michigan to Los Angeles have gotten the green light on reopening restaurants including their dine-in options, the time for restaurant owners to reopen responsibly and in an informed way is more important than ever.
In recent weeks, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a new set of more detailed safety guidelines for restaurants and bars to reopen dine-in services throughout the country. The new directives, which act in concert with local and state laws, make clear that minimal interaction with others continues to be the most important part of improving safety during the COVID-19 crisis.
So, how should restaurants reopen responsibly and how can they help limit the spread of the virus while also providing diners with the same quality service and food they did before?
Here are some tips:
Payroll Practices and Compliance
Operators should take the remaining time before they reopen to review payroll practices, policies, and procedures for the sake of legal compliance. This could include reviewing how restaurants treat meal and rest period compliance in states that have detailed guidelines for these periods of time. Restaurants could ensure they have the correct employee classifications for employees, such as determining if someone is exempt or if they should be considered hourly and qualify for overtime.
Policies for Rehiring
Rehiring could turn out to be a problem for a restaurant reopening its doors due to claims of bias. One way to go about rehiring is to rehire based on seniority by bringing back servers and bussers and food line workers who have been with the restaurant the longest.
Owners should also be aware that some former staffers who are now on unemployment are earning more than they did while working. This has put a major roadblock in the way of rehiring experienced talent as these individuals have been making around $600 per week via unemployment benefits. Rehiring will be easier for larger restaurants and their franchisees because hiring can be more standardized and easier to attract workers. But for smaller restaurants, they may not have the resources to easily hire someone or bring someone back who is unemployed.
To combat this, some operators might need to increase their pay for a short period of time to make up the difference from what they could potentially get from unemployment benefits.
Training for New Sanitization and Social Distancing
Training is probably the most key element in returning to work and reopening restaurants while COVID-19 is still making its way throughout the United States. This can come in the outline of mandatory training sessions for employees before they return to work, informing them of the importance of maintaining distance and personal hygiene.
Training should have clear, redefined, and systemized sanitation procedures that should be reviewed regularly and reinforced on a daily basis. Training should also include strategies that help employees maintain social distancing from each other and the customers who come in. From reviewing coughing and sneezing etiquette to proper use of face masks and washing their hands, there are many different ways that they can stay informed and updated.
Daily Cleaning Protocols
Moving forward, ongoing daily procedures will reduce the risk of exposure for customers and employees alike. Cleaning should include disinfection of high-contact surfaces like door handles and frames, countertops, POS equipment, headsets, buttons, and shared items on a tabletop. These kinds of cleanings should be done not only every day, but even between customers. Furthermore, silverware, even if it’s unused, should be replaced after every table has been cleared.
Restaurant clients should be sure to train and designate for extra disinfection duties but make it a crucial role and not just a task they have to trudge through. These employees should be working with personal protective equipment and supplies to limit their risk of receiving the virus from a potential carrier.
While every industry navigates these unprecedented times, it’s important to be diligent about how restaurants can reduce their potential of spreading disease. Reviewing previous cleaning strategies and updating them to meet the demand of health today, they can find themselves in better position in the fight against COVID-19.
About RMS Hospitality Group
At RMS Hospitality Group, our expertly crafted policies are written specifically for the hospitality industry. We offer custom-tailored solutions to meet any venue’s specific needs. For more information, contact our knowledgeable experts today at (888) 359-8390.
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