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

Running Restaurants After COVID-19 Recovery: Safety Checklist

One of the industries that experienced the brunt of the impact from COVID-19 was the restaurant industry. Many food retail outlets were forced to shut down their operations when the outbreak initially occurred earlier this year. However, the country is gradually recovering from the pandemic, with many businesses resuming their activities.

The UK government has allowed restaurants and pubs to reopen and resume their operations provided that they follow issued guidelines to keep staff and patrons safe from COVID-19. Let’s look at some changes which need to be implemented when reopening and running restaurants after COVID-19 recovery.

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

Running Restaurants After COVID19 Recovery Safety Checklist

Checklist for reopening restaurants

When reopening your restaurant after a long closure period, you will need to perform some extra checks to ensure that hygiene standards are being followed. Here are some items to verify before reopening your restaurant.



Informing Authorities

  • Inform your local authorities that you intend to reopen your business.
  • Update local authorities on any changes you are implementing in your operations, such as the introduction of pick-up or delivery services.



Changes To Food Safety

  • Assess if any food safety risks are posed by your new changes. If you are offering delivery and take-away services, ensure that the packaging is safe to use for food.
  • Look out for the possibility of contamination between raw and cooked food items.



Check Staff Fitness

  • Ensure that staff are fit to work and are not suffering from any COVID-19 symptoms. In addition to this, they should not be suffering from other illnesses that could compromise food safety. Managers should contact staff to verify if they are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Symptoms to look out for include high temperature, persistent coughing, and changes in sense of taste and/or smell.
  • Staff can be tested for high temperature using a digital thermometer. Infrared thermometers should be avoided as they are unreliable for checking body temperature.
  • Staff suffering from any of the aforementioned symptoms should be sent home until they have recovered.
  • Ensure that the staff is wearing clean clothes while they are working.



Waste Disposal

  • Check for any waste build up at the site.
  • Get in touch with waste carrier services to ensure that they are operating.



Restaurant Site Check

  • Inspect food preparation areas and ensure that each surface, equipment, and utensil has been thoroughly disinfected.
  • Perform a deep cleaning of the entire site if needed.
  • Dispose of any cleaning solutions or disinfectants that are past their use-by date.
  • Carry out more frequent disinfection of surfaces and equipment. Areas that are used more heavily should be provided extra attention during cleanings.



Assess Damage From Pests And Animals

  • Look for any signs of damage or soiling from pests and animals. This includes damaged packaging, smeared dirt on walls and doors, or the smell of droppings or urine.
  • Check if pest traps need to be reset and contact pest services accordingly.



Checking Equipment

Assess that your equipment is still in working order.

  • Disinfect and wipe down equipment surfaces before plugging them back into electrical outlets.
  • Assess if any equipment has been damaged or is overdue for maintenance.
  • Check that kitchen taps are functioning properly and that there are no leaks.
  • Ensure that all probe thermometers are in working condition and verify their accuracy with another thermometer.



Checking Ingredients And Prepared Items

  • Check food item packaging to see if it has been compromised during the closure.
  • Look for evidence indicating that the food items have spoiled due to temperature changes or improper storage.
  • Check expiration dates on food items that are unopened, and use-by dates for items that have been opened.
  • Verify that your ingredient supplier is still offering ingredients.



Social Distancing Procedures

The following distancing procedures should be adhered to while operating your restaurant:

  • Ask staff and patrons who are unwell to avoid visiting the restaurant and to stay at home.
  • Encourage staff to engage in more frequent hand-washing while working.
  • Staff who can work from home should be encouraged to do so.
  • Staff working on site should comply with social distancing guidelines and maintain a distance of 2 meters from other employees.
  • Staff working in smaller spaces can maintain a safe distance of 1 meter with additional protection measures wherever possible. This includes more frequent hand-washing, minimising time spent in close proximity to other staff, and using partition screens in work spaces.
  • Activities that cannot adapt to social distancing should be halted and revised to protect staff and patrons.



Keeping Patrons Safe

Restaurant owners have a duty to keep patrons and visitors safe during operations. Some procedures for ensuring their safety include:

  • Limit indoor gatherings to parties from two households. Alternatively, a group from multiple households should be limited to 6 people.
  • Inform patrons and visitors about group limits through signs.
  • Verbally confirm the number of households in their party upon arrival.
  • Ensure that different groups of visitors maintain social distancing while standing in lines or queues.
  • Lowering restaurant capacity to accommodate proper distancing between tables.
  • Discourage patrons from performing self-service such as picking up food items or utensils directly. These items should be served or provided to patrons at their table.
  • Offering disposable cutlery and utensils to avoid reusing potentially contaminated items.
  • Adding partition screens between tables wherever possible.
  • Setting up infrared sensor taps and soap dispensers in washrooms.
  • Encouraging patrons to use delivery or take-out options whenever possible.
  • Discourage patrons from crowding around areas where staff are working, such as bars and kitchen entrances.
  • Staff should be wearing face masks whenever they are interacting with customers or serving food.

Following the steps in the aforementioned checklists can help ensure that both staff and patrons are kept safe as the COVID-19 crisis subsides. These procedures should be followed as closely as possible until the government and/or the NHS announce that the pandemic no longer poses a threat to staff and patrons.

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

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.