The current measures to control and contain the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has led to closing of public places like restaurants and bars, schools and cinemas as well as restricted movements within and even outside states (Wells, 2020). While some states in the U.S. and some countries in the world continue to ease restrictions due to declining numbers, some continue to ensure that these stringent measures remain in place to contain COVID-19 pandemic. Imperatively, people are getting mixed signals concerning restaurant dining and opening, especially in some states where public health officials are urging people to stay home due to the rising caseloads (Pinsker, 2020). However, above all these measures and need to dine, one question remains; is it safe to open restaurants and what measures should a company or business in the industry implement to protect customers from possible infections or exposure to the virus?
Measures for Safe Opening of Restaurants
The restaurant culture is slowly running in many states as well as countries, especially in traditionally high end tourist destinations in Europe and other parts of the world. However, just because one can eat out again, does not imply that one should. Opening restaurants may be safe under certain stringent guidelines focused on controlling the pandemic and ensuring that new infections remain low. Imperatively, restaurants must navigate a situation that is new to their operations and to the rest of customers across the world (Wells, 2020). According to new guidelines for restaurant operators from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent, restaurants seeking to open and serve people must adhere to broadened principles aimed at ensuring that they are safe (CDC, 2020). These guidelines entail intensified cleaning, sanitizing, disinfection of the surfaces and ventilation based on the set standards.
The CDC guidelines requires restaurants to consider ways to protect their employees, customers, and communities and reduce the spread of COVID-19 (Pinsker, 2020). For instance, safe opening requires the restaurants to determine, in collaboration with the state and local public health officials and agencies, whether and how to execute these considerations and make necessary adjustments where possible to satisfy the needs and circumstances with the community. The safe opening of restaurant based on these guidelines should ensure that the measures are feasible, acceptable, practical and customized to the community needs in each setting.
The CDC asserts that safe opening of restaurants requires the establishments to implement a host of measures and strategies focused on maintenance of healthy environments, promotion of behaviors that reduce the spread, and maintenance of healthy operations (CDC, 2020). The restaurants should also implement strategies on preparation of sick employees.
Maintenance of Healthy Environments
The safe opening of restaurants will require the proprietors to have strategies that include cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces at least every day or as required by the local safety regulations on COVID-19. These surfaces include door handles, sink handles and bathrooms as well as cash registers. The restaurants must clean shared things or objects like payment terminals, receipt trays and tables and condiment holder after each use (CDC, 2020). The establishment should also wash, rinse and sanitize food contact surfaces using EPA-certified food contact surface sanitizers. The management should also create disinfection routine and provide training for its staff on proper cleaning timing and procedures to ascertain safe and correct utilization of disinfectants.
The restaurants should ensure that the residue from the cleaning or disinfecting products are disposed of properly and not left on tables or other surfaces (Wells, 2020). Again, these establishments must have a schedule for heightened cleaning and disinfection process. The ventilation systems should operate effectively and properly to increase air circulation, especially circulation of air from the outdoors (Pinsker, 2020). The safe opening also entails limiting the seating capacity to allow for effective social distancing. The implication is that restaurants can open safely if they modify their layouts and procedures. For instance, offering drive-through and delivery options where possible. The priority should be outdoor setting and layout as much as it is feasible. The maintenance of physical barriers and guides is also critical in having restaurants open in a safe manner to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Behavior Promotion to Reduce Risk
Restaurants can open safely by implementing different strategies that encourage behaviors which mitigate the spread of COVID-19 among customers and employees (Pinsker, 2020). Firstly, the can encourage and educate their employees on the need to stay home and when to return to work. Employees that appear sick or with flu-like symptoms should be encouraged to stay home. Even those who have interacted recently with people with COVID-19 should stay at home. Secondly, the employees should be encouraged and mandated to frequently wash their hands especially before, during and after food preparation and serving customers (CDC, 2020). They should cover their faces with recommended masts and other appropriate face coverings. The establishments should ensure that supplies are enough to support healthy hygiene behaviors. These entails soap and hand sanitizers that contain the recommended alcohol levels.
Protection of Employees through Health Operations
Employees at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 should get protection from the restaurants. These establishments should limit exposure to the risk by modifying job responsibilities (Wells, 2020). For instance, inventory management can be effective as opposed to one working as a cashier. The restaurants can open safely by consistently applying the law, developing requisite policies that protect those at the greatest risk of severe illness if they contract the disease.
Based on these measures, restaurants can open safely to customers and ensure that they protect both the employees and customers. However, if an establishment cannot meet the measures or these requirements, it would be prudent and ethical that it does not open.