Staying Safe While Open

By Shanuka Kadupitiyage | Published: 2:00 AM Oct 16 2021
Echo Staying Safe While Open

By Shanuka Kadupitiyage 

As the lockdown has ended and people are starting to get back out in the open, businesses have also begun to open up once again. However, it is clear that although the fourth wave has somewhat subsided, we will have to continue adjusting to life in the ‘new normal’ and manage our lives amidst the pandemic. 

This is especially troubling for businesses such as restaurants, which have relied on customers to dine in and take-out food prepared by them; something that people may be reluctant to do so given that the risk of contracting COVID-19 hasn’t subsided. Not only will it be important for restaurant owners to maintain the trust of their customers, but they will also have to be aware of protecting their staff from potential exposure to the coronavirus as well. 

Chef Rakitha Gayan C. Perera has been in the hospitality industry for many years, sharing his expertise with a number of high-profile restaurants both locally and internationally. Ceylon Today learnt that with his first-hand experience dealing with the pandemic while providing his services as General Manager in his current employment, he has developed a set of guidelines that he believes can help protect the restaurant industry and those who enjoy and sustain themselves from it during this crucial period of time. 

A time of many losses 

“This has been a time where many of us have lost so much, all because of the given circumstances,” he shared. “And the same can be said of businesses. With each lockdown, restaurant owners face major struggles to stay afloat, and the number of restaurants that have closed down with each lockdown has continued to rise without any signs of stopping.” Realising that without any proper, specific guidelines for precautionary methods, earning the trust of customers will be difficult; Chef Rakitha has used his practical expertise to come up with a list of best practices for this very purpose. “It is better that a restaurant is kept open, rather that shutdown due to the pandemic circumstances in order to keep the industry alive,” he opined. 

“It’s my belief that with these guidelines, restaurant workers and owners will be able to operate with minimal risk to both staff and customers.” He shared that although his list was presented to Government authorities, including the relevant minister in order for their consideration while creating new guidelines, the little response he received was lukewarm at best. And so, he hopes that through disseminating his guidelines, more restaurant owners will be willing to introduce these practices to their own establishments for the good of their industry. 

The list of guidelines 

When reporting for duty 

- Check for symptoms and body temperature regularly 

- Wearing a mask is mandatory at all times 

- Be fully vaccinated 

- Maintain proper hygienic standards at all time 

- Wash hands regularly 

- Wear work uniform while only at premises 

- Clean uniforms daily through laundry services 

While On-Duty 

Kitchen Staff must;

- Wear masks and gloves at all times 

- Wash ingredients with mild chlorine solution 

- Remove gloves when stepping outside the kitchen 

- Wash hands and wear new gloves when stepping into the kitchen once again 

- Leaving Restaurant premises during work shift is strictly prohibited 

- If leaving for emergency situation, clothes and uniform used while in premises must not be worn outside 

- Employees must sanitise and disinfect themselves before entering premises once again 

Front End Staff must;

- Wear masks and gloves at all times 

- Gloves must be removed when stepping outside of service area 

- New gloves must be worn when stepping inside 

- Sanitizer must be readily available for customers/guests at all times 

- Staff must sanitise hands and gloves before interacting with any customer 

- Leaving Restaurant premises during work shift is strictly prohibited 

- If leaving for emergency situation, clothes and uniform used while in premises must not be worn outside 

- Employees must sanitise and disinfect themselves before entering premises once again 

When accepting customers/guests 

- Temperature checks and washing hands before entry is mandatory 

- Fully vaccinated customers are preferred 

- Information should be collected for contact tracing 

When serving guests 

- Disinfect all furniture before use 

- Use of e-menu is encouraged. If not, disinfect menu before presenting to guest 

- Maintain physical distancing 

- Use sanitizer after interacting with a guest 

- Disinfect all silverware and dining items in boiling water before use 

- Serve food warm as much as possible 

- Serve bottled water in sealed bottles as often as possible 

- Discouragement of buffet-style selfservice 

- Present steamed face-towels instead of traditional serviettes 

- Disinfect all items in contact with customer (plates, cutlery, glasses) in boiling water after use 

- Disinfect all surfaces after customer exits 

The Cashier 

- Wear protective gloves, masks is mandatory at all times 

- Minimise handling of physical cash n Disinfect gloves after every transaction 

- Promote use of cashless transaction methods 

For Delivery Services 

- Wearing of protective masks, gloves is mandatory at all times 

- All food delivered to customers should be in sealed containers 

- Delivery riders must disinfect before entering premises, or have separate entrance with minimal interaction with staff and customers 

- Delivery riders must disinfect hands before handling customer’s food package 

Promoting employee safety 

- Regularly conduct Rapid Antigen Tests using four randomly picked employees 

- Free provision of immunity boosting herbal hot drinks 

Benefits of such practices 

- Minimises risk of exposure to Covid-19 for customers and service staff 

- Maintains service without interruptions 

- Minimises chance of contributing to spread of virus 

- Increases efficiency and hygiene in operations 

- Increases trust between restaurant and guest 

- Supports other industries 

Chef Rakitha agrees that following such guidelines would incur an increased cost on the end of the restaurant, but notes that a minor loss of profit is a small price to pay for retaining the trust of customers and maintaining the safety of the employees as well as the restaurant’s good reputation. 

Of course, he agrees that some establishments may have to increase service charges due to the circumstances, but sees it as up to the restaurant on how implementation of cost covering should be performed. He hopes that as restaurants begin implementing such strategies, the industry and those who rely on it for their livelihood, as well as their guests would remain safe, protected and that all will have a positive experience in the new normal.

By Shanuka Kadupitiyage | Published: 2:00 AM Oct 16 2021

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