Preparing to Reopen Your Restaurant, Café or Pub After Lockdown

As restaurants and cafes are due to once again welcome in their customers, owners and managers will need to plan for a safe and successful reopening.  In previous posts we’ve spoken about how to attract customers back after Covid-19 and recommissioning your coffee machine after a long break, but it’s also a good idea to make sure your business is following Government guidelines for reopening, so we’ve broken down the main points here.

Check with your local authority

If you’re planning to restart your operations, you’ll need to notify your local authority. You’ll also need to tell them about any changes to your business activities, for example if you’re introducing a new delivery service.

Update your food safety management system (FSMS)

You’ve reviewed your FSMS for risks, so this step is about updating it with details of any new procedures as a result of Covid-19, being shut for a long period, or other risk factors. You might need to include:

  • food safety risks, following your procedure changes
  • new procedures for takeaway or delivery services (for example, allergen management)
  • cross-contamination risks
  • packaging arrangements (this should be food grade, and fit for purpose)
  • packaging hygiene (for example, if it’s been in storage for a long time, is it safe to use?)
  • staff checks (are your employees fit for work and wearing clean work clothes?)
  • fitness for work procedures (to account for coronavirus risks, it might be helpful to speak to your employees by phone before they come back, to decide if they’re fit to work)
  • personal protective equipment (PPE) reviews, using the government’s non-medical and care setting guidelines and specific guidelines for takeaway and delivery restaurants
  • reviews of any PPE stock, if needed
  • new laundry procedures for any PPE
  • communication and training plans for your employees, including anyone new to the business

Check your waste arrangements

You’ll need to check that rubbish and waste will be cleared away by your usual registered waste services, ensuring there won’t be any on-site build-up.

Site checks

This part of your restaurant, pub or cafe reopening covers food preparation areas, pest activity (important if you’ve had to close for a long period), as well as hand washing and cleaning products.

Check all food preparation areas

These areas need to be cleaned and disinfected regularly, with equipment and utensils factored in:

  • assess your whole site to decide if you can do the cleaning yourself, or a professional deep clean is needed
  • check the cleaning products you already have and make sure they’re in date and fit for purpose (anything you’ve made up or diluted before closing won’t be usable). Replace where necessary
  • decide whether employees need training to use and dilute your cleaning products
  • increase your cleaning and disinfection frequency, especially for shared equipment and high through-put and touch areas

Make sure handwashing, cleaning materials and hot and cold water are available

This will include soap, sanitiser and paper towels, with hot and cold running water at all sinks. You’ll also need to factor in your toilet facilities:

  • check all your products are in-date and fit for purpose
  • stock up on your regular cleaning products and provide alternatives where necessary
  • make sure your staff are up to date with government handwashing guidelines (increased frequency and for 20 seconds with warm water and soap)
  • provide adequate hand-washing stations at all appropriate points in your food production and communal areas, and toilets
  • provide hand sanitiser too, where appropriate (for example, on your front counter)
  • use signs and posters to build awareness of good handwashing technique
  • if queues tend to form for your toilets, consider social distancing marking
  • set clear use and staff cleaning guidance for your toilets, factoring in increased frequency (your normal cleaning products are fine, but pay close attention to frequently touched surface and consider using disposable cloths or paper roll
  • keep toilet areas well ventilated, fixing main doors open if necessary

Checking your equipment

From fridges to ovens, you’ll need to check your equipment is clean, safe and working properly. Here are some of the main types of equipment and checks you’ll need to make:

Your espresso machine

See our post on Recommissioning Your Machine After a Long Break

Fridges, chilling equipment and freezers

  • clean your equipment thoroughly before restarting and restocking
  • check temperature records and requirements (and allow equipment to reach the required temperature before restocking)
  • decide if the equipment needs any maintenance
  • remove and refresh any ice
  • Other equipment
  • clean all equipment thoroughly before reopening
  • decide on any maintenance requirements and check temperature gauges
  • run dish and glasswashers empty on a hot cycle
  • flush through your taps and other water systems
  • read up on Legionella risks and take any necessary action
  • check your probe thermometers, recalibrate where necessary and stock up on probe wipes
  • Checking ingredients and products
  • Raw materials, ingredients and allergens all need to be factored in to your reopening planning

Social distancing and safety in your restaurant, cafe or pub

These new measures are designed to keep you, your employees and suppliers, and customers safe during coronavirus. Here’s the government advice:

  • where possible, provide two metre social distancing and check the government’s guidelines
  • minimise staff-customer interactions
  • think about your training and communication plans, making sure information is clear and consistent
  • identify any high-risk staff and ensure they’re protected
  • use cohorting to avoid your staff mixing
  • increase ventilation, where it’s safe to do so

Entertainment in pubs, bars and venues

Music, sport broadcasts, quizzes and lots more are part of business as usual, especially for pubs and bars. The government has advised that venues shouldn’t hold live performances in front of a live audience at this time.

The below guidance also applies

  • take steps to avoid people having to raise their voices or shout (including playing loud music or broadcasts)
  • prevent close contact activities, such as dancing
  • decide whether your entertainment can be run in-line with current social distancing guidelines (can people remain two metres apart, for example?)
  • reconfigure indoor entertainment spaces to ensure customers are seated, rather than standing
  • use online ticketing and contactless payments for entertainment, where possible
  • communicating your arrangements clearly for customers

The government also points you to their guidance on social distancing, customer interaction and communication or instructions to the public, which includes their five steps to working safely and restaurants offering takeaway or delivery information.



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