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Reopening checklist for food businesses during COVID19

Hospitality reopening guidance [UPDATED]

The government finally has released its guidance for restaurants, hotels, accommodation and leisure businesses reopening from 4 July.

We have to Keep in mind that health leaders warn UK must urgently prepare for a second wave after PM gives the hospitality the go-ahead.

The advice is around social distancing for workers, cleaning, PPE, face-covering and managing patrons.

The report encourages the use of contactless ordering. You can download the report here

Table service must be minimised therefore staff contact with customers must be limited. Indoor table service must be used where possible. Outdoor table service should also be encouraged, although customers are permitted to stand outside if distanced properly.

Bar or counter service is not possible, operators should prevent a patron from remaining at the bar or counter after ordering, but unfortunately in the UK, it may be a challenge.

A checklist to support food businesses to reopen safely during COVID-19 after a period of inaction.

If you are reopening your food business after a period of closure you will require some extra checks alongside your ‘normal’ daily opening checks.

These will help to make sure that your business can restart safely. You will need of course maintain your basic hygiene standards and recognise the areas where greater attention will be required.

A review of your Food Safety Management System should be undertaken to identify risks to be recorded in your Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP).

This review should consider all changes to your business’s processes and services connected to coronavirus (COVID-19).

This could include:

    Changes to production
    Workflow management
    Customer interactions and any required control measures

Completing a reopening checklist will allow you to record progress when restarting your food business. The checklist is also available for download in table format here.

Planning and preparation for start-up

Check your Local Authority is informed of current food activities

    Notify your Local Authority of your intention to restart operations
    Notify your Local Authority of any change to the business activities you are registered for. This includes the introduction of any new delivery or takeaway service

Check Registered Waste Carrier Services

    Ensure that your registered waste carrier services are running and available as required, to ensure there is no build-up of waste on-site.

Update Your Food Safety Management System For Any New Procedures

    Consider any risks to food safety introduced by changes to procedures.
    Review and document new procedures about takeaway or delivery services e.g. allergen management, cook-chill-reheat, temperature control awaiting collection or during delivery.
  • Manage risks of cross-contamination between raw and ready-to-eat foods.
  • Ensure food packaging for takeaways and delivery is food grade, and appropriate for the purpose and food type.
  • Store food packaging hygienically.
  • Check that the hygiene and integrity of any packaging stored through a period of closure have been maintained and dispose of unsuitable packaging.
  • Check staff are fit for work and wearing clean work clothes.
  • Consider adjustments to fitness for work procedures to take account of COVID-19 symptoms. Initial telephone interviews with staff may be beneficial in assessing fitness to work.
  • Review the government advice on the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) outside of medical and care settings. Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) has further guidance for restaurants offering takeaway or delivery.
  • If your business requires staff to wear PPE, check you have adequate stocks available. Review any PPE laundering procedures, where appropriate, to ensure PPE worn by staff can be safely changed and cleaned regularly.
  • Ensure any changes to procedures are communicated to staff and training is provided where appropriate, including training of any new staff.

Site checks


Check food preparation areas are clean and disinfected (this includes work surfaces, equipment and utensils)

    Carry-out a full site assessment to determine if you can undertake a thorough clean or if a professional deep clean is needed.
  • Source suitable cleaning and disinfection consumables and check existing stocks are within their use-by date. Cleaning products made-up or diluted before any closure should be disposed of as effectiveness reduces over time. See our guidance if your regular cleaning products are not available.
  • Assess if staff need re-training on dilution rates and cleaning procedures.
  • Increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfection, paying particular attention to shared equipment and high through-put and touch areas.
  • Look for evidence of pests, and take action if necessary, before restarting your operations.

Check for:

  1. 1
    Signs of damage or smearing to walls and doors gnawed or stained packaging
  2. 2
    Footprints in dust
    Animal droppings or urine smell
  4. 4
    Insect bodies, larvae, cocoons and egg/pupal casings
    Consider resetting your pest-control schedule if necessary.
  • Arrange for contractors to undertake a pre-opening site survey if required.

Check handwashing and cleaning materials’ availability (this includes soap, sanitiser and paper towels)

    Make sure all consumables are within dates for use.
    Obtain enough of your regular cleaning consumables such as soap, sanitiser and paper towels. Provide suitable alternatives if your regular products are unavailable.
  • Consider updating staff training in line with government advice that staff should wash their hands more frequently than usual.
  • This should be for 20 seconds with warm water and soap.
  • Make sure adequate hand-washing stations are provided at all appropriate points within the food production and communal areas.
  • Consider providing hand sanitiser in addition to hand-washing facilities at appropriate locations.

Equipment checks


Check your fridges, chilled display equipment and freezers are working properly.

    Thoroughly clean equipment before restarting and restocking.
    Check required temperatures and any temperature control records, if kept during the closure period.
  • Review whether equipment requires maintenance after a period of inaction.
  • Allow sufficient time for equipment to reach the required temperature before restocking. Remove and refresh any ice left in machines and dispensers.

Check your other equipment (e.g. oven) is working properly

    Thoroughly clean equipment before restarting and restocking.
    Inspect for maintenance requirements, verify temperatures and re-calibrate where necessary for time or temperature.
  • Run dishwashers and glasswashers empty on hot cycle before use.
  • Flush through taps and other equipment with water systems (e.g. bain-marie).
  • Consider Legionella risks and take action in line with Legionella guidance from the Health and Safety Executive to reduce risks.
  • Check probe thermometers are working properly, and probe wipes are available.
  • Consider whether probe thermometers need to be recalibrated.

Ingredient and product checks 

Check raw materials and ingredients

    Check for any damage to packaging which might affect the safety of food or result in loss of allergen information.
    Check for any evidence of temperature abuse which may render the food unsafe. Refer to temperature control records where available.
  • Check the use-by and best before dates on existing stock. Ensure that storage has been in- line with the manufacturer’s instructions. For example, check that any opened or unsealed product has been stored in line with labelled instruction such as ‘Once opened consume within’.
  • For foods frozen by you on closure, check that labelling and records are sufficient to allow the safe use of the food.
  • Check that the length of storage is in-line with your assessment at the point of freezing. 
  • Check that you can obtain your usual raw materials and ingredients so that your product specifications can be met.
  • Ensure that any new suppliers are reputable and can meet your requirements. Safer food, better business guidance is available on the selection of suppliers and contractors.

Check allergen information is accurate and available for all products

    Review your allergen management system, allergen matrices and menus to account for changes of supplier and any new raw materials or products.
    Review new takeaway or delivery services to ensure the risk of allergen cross-contamination is managed.
  • Ensure allergen information is available to customers at the time of ordering and delivery of food.

Social distancing measures

Employee safety

    Review the government advice on social distancing in the workplace in Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19).
    Provide where possible for 2-metre social distancing. See Social distancing at work and Food preparation.
  • Consider steps to minimise staff-customer interactions. See Managing your customers, visitors and contractors.
  • Consider how you will communicate with, update and where necessary train staff in new procedures. See Communications and training.
  • Identify staff at higher risk. See Protecting people at higher risk.
  • Cohort working teams to lower staff mixing. See Workforce management.
  • Increase in ventilation. You should assess the possibility to do this without introducing new risks or hazards to food safety and hygiene. See Before reopening.

Public safety

Refer to government guidance on social distancing, customer interaction and communication or instructions to the public.

Click here to ream what are the 4 Types Of Customers You Will Meet While Running Restaurants After COVID-19 Recovery

[Disclosure: Information is taken from The Food Standard Agency]

New eBook Reveals How To Successfully Open A Restaurant… Free E-Book!


About the Author

Massimo’s career has grown up through the restaurant world, starting as a waiter through to high-end restaurant openings within an operational management capacity. This depth of experience has allowed him to understand the business from both a guest’s needs to what a team needs, giving him the benefit of an all-rounded view and approach to problem solving.