As more locations in the country are transitioning to general community quarantine, Filipinos are becoming optimistic as they seek to get back on their feet and earn a living, including those in the food industry. While this is great news, the risk of getting infected through public transport or even going out for essentials like food still worries many.

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To help prepare food business owners, the Department of Tourism released guidelines to follow for the “new normal.” Restaurants are directed to adopt the following operational guidelines to help contain the pandemic, to prevent health emergencies, and to ensure the safety of guests and employees. These guidelines are based mainly on the recommendations of the World Health Organization and the Department of Health.

MANAGE GUESTS HEALTH AND SAFETY

  1. Incorporate mobile ordering and payment solutions so that diners can make orders and payments directly without having to wait at the cashier.
  2. Encourage diners to order ahead, take food home, pay through credit card and/or on-line payments.
  3. Leverage social media or any online page to provide updates on the new procedures, policies, and preventive measures undertaken by the restaurant to keep its employees and guests safe.
  4. No face mask, no entry policy, will be imposed.
  5. Remind guests to disinfect their hands with disinfectant gel or alcohol upon entering and leaving the restaurant.

MANAGING EMPLOYEES’ HEALTH AND SAFETY

  1. Pre-screen (e.g., take temperature and assess symptoms) employees each time they report for work. Unwell employees, even with mild flu-like symptoms, must see a doctor and stay at home to prevent spreading illness to others.
  2. All restaurant employees (food attendants, kitchen staff, cashier, etc.) will wear appropriate PPEs (face mask, face shield or covering, gloves, etc.).
  3. Employees may not contact exposed, ready-to-eat food with their bare hands and will use deli tissue and suitable utensils such as spatulas, tongs, single use-gloves, or dispensing equipment. If the task requires direct contact with ready-to-eat food, wash hands and the exposed portions of the arms for 20 seconds prior to donning gloves and before touching food or food-contact surfaces. Wash hands immediately after removing gloves.
  4. Reinforce rigorous handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before, during, and after all shifts, after going to the bathroom, before eating, after blowing nose, coughing or sneezing, or after touching high touch surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, and doorbells). If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 70 percent alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  5. Provide hand sanitizers to frontline staff who handle cash and other devices, and who are unable to wash their hands frequently with soap and water.
  6. Reduce physical interactions such as gatherings or having meals in groups.
  7. Designate and clearly demarcate a dining area for staff only. Designated area should be out of public view wherever possible.
  8. Impose staggered meal times for employees.
  9. When consuming food within the restaurant, employees will be required to keep a distance of at least one meter from another individual and leave the designated dining area in a clean state after they have consumed their meals.

HYGIENE, SANITATION, AND MAINTENANCE

  1. The restaurant will be equipped with a thermal scanner or thermometer gun to screen the temperature of employees and guests entering the restaurant.
  2. Clearly demarcate queue lines and put up signage for:
    a. Guests queuing to order food, and
    b. Waiting area for guests and delivery personnel to pick up their food.
  3. Alcohol-based hand rub or sanitizer and tissue or table napkins will be available per table, in close proximity with high touch areas and in the prominent areas around the restaurant.
  4. Health and safety related information and reminders on proper hygiene and physical distancing will be displayed in the restaurant premises.
  5. Practice proper restaurant hygiene and sanitization.
    a. Common spaces, high touch surfaces (e.g. bars, kitchen and countertops, cashier, menu, remote controls, doorknobs, bathroom surfaces, keyboards, tables and chairs, phones and tablets, and condiment containers), interactive components (e.g. smart kiosks), kitchen spaces, and other facility access areas will be cleaned and sanitized often.
    b. Wash, rinse, and sanitize food contact surfaces, dishware, utensils, food preparation surfaces, and beverage equipment before and after use.
    c. All dishes, silverware, and glassware should be washed and disinfected, including items that have not been used, as they might have been in contact with the hands of the guest or staff.
    d. Disposable gloves for cleaning and sanitizing will be used and the same will be thrown away before leaving the area and washing hands.
    e. Disinfectant wipes, when used will be applied according to package directions and will not be reused to wipe down multiple surfaces. Used wipes will be thrown in the trash.
  6. Handwashing sinks will be adequately stocked with soap and paper towels.
  7. Restaurant wastes will be properly segregated and disposed off regularly.
  8. Bag or properly contain all used linens and fabrics when transporting them to a laundering area, if applicable.

SERVICES

  1. Self-service station set up for guests or do-it-yourself: customer refills are highly discouraged. All food and beverages must be served by restaurant crew or personnel.
  2. Single-use items like napkins, fork and spoon, other utensils, and condiments will be dispensed with by the employees directly to the guest instead of putting them in a self-service area.
  3. Buffets and salad bars are discontinued until further notice.

DINE-IN PROTOCOLS

Note: Only when it is allowed under national or local policies.

  1. Dine-in and walk-in guests may be allowed provided that preventive measures and strict social distancing are observed. Group of diners will be limited to 10 persons.
  2. The restaurant will operate on a “significantly” reduced capacity, not exceeding 50 percent of its regular total capacity to allow at least one meter spacing. The number of dine-in guests will be limited by letting the diners in progressively.
  3. Banquet tables that can accommodate 10 guests, must accommodate only five guests. Tables will be arranged such that the distance from the back of one chair to the back of another chair will be more than one meter apart and the guests face each other from a distance of at least one meter. If seats are fixed, alternate seats will be marked out.

FOOD PICK-UP AND DELIVERY

  1. Establish designated pick-up zones for guests or customers to help maintain social distancing.
  2. Practice social distancing of at least one meter when delivering food (e.g., offering “no touch” deliveries and sending text alerts or calling when deliveries have arrived).
  3. Keep food hot by ensuring insulated cases are properly functioning and storage are in appropriate transport vessels.
  4. Keep cold food cold by keeping enough coolant materials, (e.g., gel packs and storage in appropriate transport vessels).
  5. Keep raw food separated from cooked and ready-to-eat food all the time.
  6. Ensure that any wrapping and packaging used for food transport are done so that contamination of the food is prevented.
  7. Regularly clean and sanitize coolers and insulated bags used to deliver food.

Click here to download a copy of the Transitioning To The New Health and Safety Guidelines for Restaurants.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2020/05/18/the-new-normal-guidelines-for-restaurants/)