As bars, pubs and restaurants across the UK’s devolved nations look forward, to reopening indoors, over the coming weeks, doing so in a way that keeps everyone safe and complies with the latest government guidance, takes careful consideration and planning. 

With much of a business’ attention focused on venues being COVID-19 secure, it would be easy for a hospitality operator to forget the other necessary aspects of running a business safely.  

Our Head of Consultancy, Rob Easton, has identified three broad areas that hospitality businesses looking to reopen indoors should consider- alongside the implementation of the required Covid safety measures – peopleproduct and property.  

People 

Hospitality is a people industry – it is the team that creates a great guest experience and provides the welcome customers look forward to. Therefore, it is important that employees feel safe and happy in their workplace. 

As venues reopen, many employees will be returning to work after a period of being on furlough. This means the skills that they have perfected over time might be a little rusty, for example knife skills in the kitchen, or they may have forgotten how to operate the more complex equipment. Similarly, their job may have provided a level of strength or fitness that has not been maintained during their time away from the business. 

With social distancing measures still in place, it is likely that some staff may not be at full capacity. Also, more time may be required to undertake tasks that they would have completed routinely before. Care must be taken to reintroduce the team back into the workplace, recognising that the service may be slower to begin with.  

It is also likely that some some staff may not return and you will need to onboard a host of new starters. Ensuring that these new employees, as well as those that are returning, understand the new service styles dictated by Covid-19 measures and the new controls that need to be implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19, will be key. 

An essential part of delivering this will be staff training. You will no doubt find that your business needs to deliver an unparalleled level of training, including more health and safety training than ever before. You will also need to do this at super speed, over a short period of time.  

Legally, all employees must be trained in the areas that impact their role – such as food safety or knife safety for chefs. It is recommended that a record of this training is maintained, ideally with a knowledge test or an observation of the task being completed.  

With money and time both being tight for many hospitality businesses, eLearning and distance learning offer efficient and cost-saving solutions to fulfilling your legal training obligations. Shield Safety offers an array of Food Safety, Fire Safety and Health & Safety training courses, which can help your team to get up to speed, fast. Check the range of courses out here. 

Product 

As chefs return to the kitchen and bar staff to the cellar, it will be necessary to check all ingredients and drinks diligently to ensure they are still fit for use. You should also check the date coding, for signs of pests and the possible the deterioration of ingredients due to freezer burn. Some businesses are taking the opportunity to clear all old stock and start afresh. This has proved particularly useful when thinking about allergens in the kitchen, designing new menus and removing old and slow-moving ingredients.  

With social distancing still required in the workplace, it is possible that the number of team members working will be reduced, leading to fewer chefs in the kitchen. There are many well known cases of food poisoning that resulted from businesses being overstretched and the team not having the time required to ensure food hygiene measures were being followed correctly. Consideration must be given to matching the resources available and what is offered to the guest. This is likely going to mean a reduced menu or limiting the number of covers provided. 

Property 

During the time a business has been closed, routine maintenance and legal checks may have been due. It is vital that before the business reopens all these checks are undertaken. Businesses must make sure that all equipment is safe and ready to use before opening their doors. It would be a huge shame, after months of waiting, if a business was unable to trade because of incomplete statutory testing or defective equipment. 

Sufficient time should also be given to ensuring all kit is both working correctly and  thoroughly cleaned before use. With stock levels  in the business low, the period just before reopening is an excellent time to clean those hard-to-reach places.  

Your property should also be checked for the following:   

  • Working lighting 
  • Pest control is being properly managed 
  • Clear fire exits  
  • Furniture in good order 
  • Working fire alarms and emergency lighting 
  • Operational CCTV 

If you want to know more about ways in which you can protect your business, staff and guests. Then download our FREE reopening guide. It addresses all the key issues. a business that is reopening will face, including staff returning to work, training, pest control, waste management and COVID-19 controls. Download it here