In wake of the recent COVID-19 developments, many restaurants have had to shut down dine-in operations, forcing them to prioritize takeout and delivery. On top of present staffing issues, brands are forced to shift resources to fulfill all takeout and delivery orders. But even takeout and delivery norms are changing as we know it. Restaurants must take additional measures to ensure that both their employees and their customers aren’t at risk to COVID-19. This article will outline some simple modifications that your restaurant can make, to ensure your staff are complying with all appropriate standards when fulfilling takeout and delivery orders.
How Do I Comply?
It’s important to understand the risks customers feel they’re taking by ordering from your restaurant. Consumers may be wondering if it’s safe to order food at all. Luckily, experts say that there isn’t any evidence of food being associated with the transmission of COVID-19. That being said, it is still imperative that employees take precautions to verify that they are not carriers of the virus or spreading it. To ensure that employee safety is being considered, minimizing the physical interaction your staff has with customers is key.
Protecting your Employees
When it comes to your employees’ safety, there are two situations to consider. First, your employees could be carriers of coronavirus themselves and second, your employees could catch the virus while on the job. Both of these situations can be prevented with minor tweaks to your brands operations. Starting with your employees as carriers:
- It is recommended that employees wear gloves at all times. Because COVID-19 can remain dormant for up to 14 days, precautions must be taken to prevent the spread of the virus from one employee to another, even if they aren’t showing symptoms.
- If an employee starts to feel symptoms of any kind, they should be sent home immediately. Better safe than sorry!
- It is recommended that all stores have a thermometer on hand so that employee temperature can be taken at the start of every shift. Any customer that sees a sick employee would run out of your store and probably never come back!
Even if your employees are not carriers of COVID-19, it is still crucial that changes are made to the workplace to guarantee that their safety isn’t compromised by a store visitor who could be carrying the virus:
- Set up an isolated area to act as your “takeout area” where an employee can leave an order for a customer or driver to collect. Employees are at the greatest risk of transmission when completing the physical handoff of an order to a visitor. This system removes that handoff from the equation.
- If contact is made with a visitor, employees should sanitize immediately.
- Social distancing should be enforced amongst employees. There should be at least 1m (3 feet) of space between employees.
- Sanitize, wash your hands with soap, sanitize- you can’t do it often enough! We recommend setting a recurring timer to remind your employees to sanitize or wash their hands with soap every 20 minutes.
Protecting your Customers
If your employees are taking the necessary precautions to protect themselves from COVID-19, your customers shouldn’t be worried about ordering from your restaurant. That being said, tensions are high and as a result, customers have an expectation that your brand will be at the very top of their game when it comes to customer safety. For this reason, we’ve listed some best practices for customer safety:
- Sanitizer should be readily available for customers, regardless of their position inside your store. This means sanitizer at the store entrance, at the cash register and at the isolated takeout area.
- As mentioned above, an isolated takeout area should be established to allow for contactless handoff. This area should be wiped down every 20 minutes.
- Contactless takeout and delivery should be offered to all customers. Going further than best practices, it shows customers that you’re going the extra mile to provide them with a safe experience. Cash should no longer be accepted in any form.
- All condiments should be handed out as takeaway products.
Social distancing should be enforced by setting up your queue such that customers are at least 1m (3 feet) away from each other. Customers shouldn’t have to worry about being infected by a different customer!
- Takeout and delivery packaging should completely seal off items from the carrier. Tape or a second bag may be useful in enforcing this policy.
If the measures suggested in this article are carried out in your stores, you should feel comfortable that your brand is doing what it can to provide your customers with a safe experience. That being said, not all customers can see the steps you’re taking, so it is recommended that you include a note to your customers letting them know that you’ve adapted processes to make their safety your biggest priority. In addition to providing you with a best practice checklist, we’ve created a template note to include in your takeout and delivery orders.
As we push through this tough time, we want to ensure you that we’re here to help. We’re all in this together!