Feeling safe in a restaurant / pub during COVID-19

Its not difficult to be COVID safe, but it takes thought, training and some investment

Last night (7/7/2020) I went to a local restaurant with my wife, who is a nurse. The food was excellent, the service impeccable, the staff wore face masks or visors. But the whole experience did not feel very COVID safe. And their website says nothing about what changes they have implemented. There is a lot of advice out in the open how to run a COVID safe service for staff and clients, for example here https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/reopening-and-adapting-your-food-business-during-covid-19. However, while I am no expert in how to run a good kitchen, we certainly run a COVID safe surgery and below some ideas on what I will look for for my next restaurant / pub visit:

  1. The restaurant / pub states on their website what COVID safe changes they have made (if this is not the case, it may indicate management hasnt’ thought this through or doesn’t care. Restaurant / pub owners had 3 months to think this through and inform themselves).
  2. Staggered bookings are made so clients dont have to wait in a crowded space
  3. Handgel station at the entrance and both sides of toilets. Paper towels. Signs, like on cruise ships, to use paper towels to open toilet doors. Paper towel bins on both sides.
  4. Check regularly soap and handgel isn’t empty, nothing worse than 40 people pressing the lid of an empty dispenser.
  5. Social distancing signs on  floors.
  6. Printed single use menus on normal paper inspire more confidence than laminated menus that dont get wiped when the heat is on and distributed to different tables…
  7. Single use condiments (sachets) rather than salt and pepper in glass containers
  8. Staff wear face masks / visors
  9. Staff have the opportunity to gel their hands frequently with dispensers on the walls
  10. Tables get wiped after every visit with soapy water or use single use paper table cloth
  11. Paper sheets under plates and where cutlery lies.
  12. Staff wear some form of ID saying they have been COVID trained and are COVID aware.

All the above would inspire confidence. In terms of the restaurant we went to yesterday I will keep monitoring their website and see what management and the owners do and once they have implemented a COVID safe way of working we will definitely return.

In the meanwhile I would suggest that as many of us as possible ask COVID questions to pubs and restaurants when we are booking, so they understand the general public wants to be protected and it is good for business to be COVID aware, COVID equipped and COVID trained.

Dr M Kittel, July 2020