The three stages of shutting down your pub or restaurant due to Covid restrictions

No-one likes to close the doors on their business, but many are finding that running a business under their local town, city or region’s current or incoming restrictions is no longer viable or allowed. Many are having to close their doors temporarily.

However, at this challenging time shutting down safely and undertaking ongoing checks will be essential in ensuring that your business can start trading again as soon as possible. While from the outside closing a site may seem simple, there are many safety requirements to consider to ensure that your business complies with Food Safety, Fire Safety and Health & Safety legislation, as well as government Covid guidance.

From what you should be doing in the run-up to closing your doors, to what you need to do on the day and then what needs to happen once the doors are closed, there are a series of checks that need to be undertaken. These fall into three stages – pre-close, day of closure and ongoing closure checks. 

Ahead of any closure, checks that need to be implemented include reviewing and deep cleaning kitchen, storage, cellars, back of house and front of house area. 

On the day of closure further checks will be needed. These include turning off hot water to prevent Legionella bacteria, which is a significant risk when water systems are left stagnant for a period of time. Cellar and bar areas present their own set of risks and other areas to address include pest control; preventing alcohol loss; emptying equipment, checking best before dates and cleaning and sanitising all surfaces.

Then to protect your business, while it is closed, there are ongoing measures that can be put in place on a  daily, weekly and quarterly basis to monitor areas such as security, food storage, equipment, pest control, flushing taps, waste collections, stock and fire safety.

Considerations in each of the three stages of the shutdown process include:

  • Pre close – actions that should be undertaken in preparation for closure.
    • Kitchen and storage areas – review and deep clean these areas, removing and donating any food that will go out of date and safely storing and pest-proofing other foods.
    • Kitchen and back of house – sanitise and clean all hard surfaces and hand contact points, deep clean all the kitchen pulling out units and cleaning beneath and behind; deep clean food prep areas, walls, walk-in chillers, cooking stations, fryers and food prep equipment, fridges, freezers, dishwashers, floors, bar wall areas, ice wells, equipment and beer lines and toilet areas and pest proof.
    • Front of house – sanitise and clean all hard surfaces and hand contact points, deep clean bar and service areas as well as fridges, freezers, floors, bar wall areas, ice wells, equipment and beer lines and toilet areas and pest proof.
  • Closure – ‘on the day’ checks to be performed before the business is closed. 
    • Turn off hot water – this will save money and prevent the growth of Legionella bacteria
    • Pest control – securely store dried goods in locations where pests are less likely to access them
    • Clean –  bar dispensers, bottles and bar surfaces, ensuring optics are aren’t sticky and are covered
    • Remove spirits from bars and make sure the lids are firmly on to prevent alcohol loss.
    • Empty dishwashers / fridges
    • Clean and sanitise all surfaces and areas
    • Check ‘best before’ dates of any foods on site
  • Ongoing – ongoing daily, weekly and quarterly checks to protect your business while closed. 
    • Ensure the building has been and remains secure including reviewing CCTV footage
    • Check the temperatures on fridge and freezer units
    • Inspect for any pest activity inside and outside the building
    • Ensure bathrooms are in working order and flush taps through weekly.
    • Verify that any waste has been collected
    • Monitor held stock, checking ‘best before’ dates of any foods remaining on site
    • Inspect fire exits and fire alarms

In addition records of when your premises closed and reopened, as well as completed risk assessments, should be completed and kept on file for when the local authority office calls. This way you can achieve a safer work environment, and be able provide a record of you having taken the necessary steps as to make your business Covid-secure for your guests and customers.

Check out our free  Shutdown Checklist which details the essential checks that need to be completed.

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John Brennan

Blogs, covid-19

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