How will pubs work after lock down?
‘Pubs and restaurants will look very different after lockdown. You will see screens, table dividers, hand sanitiser stations, new ways of ordering, and experience much less interaction with staff and other patrons.’
For many people, the news that pubs and restaurants can reopen soon has been long waited for. However, it comes with great responsibility for landlords and managers. The key will be to seamlessly manage safety whilst maximising customer experience. If customers don’t feel safe and comfortable, they will stay home. If ever there was a need for providing the ultimate customer service it is now. Good health and safety will maximise the customer experience and keep people coming back.
What is good safety?
Let me explain, good safety is proportionate, effective and efficient. It should be well designed, suitable and not ugly! Who wants to eat out in a bio-hazard suit! You need to make staff and clients feel safe, you need to maximise space and you need to offer a warm, safe and welcoming home from home. JCH Safety are experts in bringing together customer and staff safety, whilst maximising customer experience. It can be done. Remember COVID-19 is here for a while, so invest in your business!
‘Operating a social venue during a pandemic is a massive responsibility.’
Thankfully, the COVID-19 infection rate is falling each week. The natural risk in society is diminishing as this continues. The Government is very keen to ensure outbreaks are limited, to allow normal life to resume as soon as possible. To do this the Government has released key guidance about how to safely reopen hospitality venues.
It is vital that you study these documents and take further professional occupational health and safety advice.
Here are 5 points to help you prepare for reopening.
- Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment
You have a duty to carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment. If you feel competent to do this, with a good understanding of health and safety and knowledge of COVID-19, you could do this yourself. Otherwise, contact a chartered health and safety professional to assist you. The risk of getting this wrong could be catastrophic.
The findings of the assessment must be shared with the people who work for you. This includes temporary staff and contractors.
Your risk assessment must look at the potential exposure points to the virus within your company. It should consider the health of your team and those who use your premises. It should assess how to mitigate these risks. In public houses and restaurants there are many potential COVID-19 risks. Inviting the public into your premises could result in people carrying the virus socialising in close proximity. The result of this could be catastrophic, causing a spike in infections. This would obviously pose huge health risks to your customers and staff.
The last thing your business would need is bad publicity. If a flare up of the virus is linked to your business it could be disastrous. it is likely that your company would end up all over the news and social media about the flare up. This is publicity you don’t need!
- Manage your risks
Having carried out a thorough COVID-19 risk assessment, you need to manage your risks. You will need to manage people within your venue like never before. How do you prevent queues, how do you prevent bottlenecks of groups of people forming, how do you keep the venue clean, what do you do about the washrooms? These are just a few questions to consider. Your approach to managing risk must be systematic, well planned and executed. It is wise to really assess your premises.
You will need to ensure that your new layout does not compromise your fire safety precautions. You will need to review your fire risk assessment as part of this phase of your safety plan. Appoint at least one person to be responsible for overseeing public safety ensuring management are always monitoring compliance. This hasn’t been done before and so you must review your arrangements regularly to ensure your safety precautions work. Feel free to contact us to discuss help with your fire risk assessment.
- Rearrange your premises to allow social distancing
You must achieve social distancing. You cannot allow crowding to take place either inside or outside your venue. The Government have provided clear guidance about this. This will include altering seating arrangements, using floor markers and posters to remind customers to keep apart as far as is practical. You must limit numbers of people entering the premises, avoid people ad-hoc queuing and consider how people will flow through your premises. There are a good range of floor stickers and posters available to help with this. Don’t forget, it is a requirement to keep a temporary record of your customers and visitors for 21 days in case this information is required for NHS Track and Trace. You must store this information safely and have processes in place for doing this.
- Use screens
Screens are popping up all over the place, in supermarkets, shops and car dealerships. They are a great idea as they provide a physical barrier between people. Although they do help shield people from fluid droplets, coughs and sneezes they should still be used whilst encouraging safe distancing of at least 1m. One big drawback with plastic screens is they are a limited size and so there is a risk of droplets travelling over or around the screen. Your risk assessment should consider the use of screens and have provision for cleaning and maintenance. Your screens must be safe, stable and not likely to fall or be used as a weapon. Remember, alcohol does strange things to some people! The risks associated with the consumption of alcohol should be within your risk assessment.
- Sanitising and hygiene routines
One of the most important safety controls to protect staff and customers is going to come from your hygiene routines. This needs careful planning and thinking about. It will vary on the building and how it is being used. The premises will require all touch surfaces to be regularly cleaned and sanitised. Think about where these are and think about how to mitigate these risks. Don’t prop fire doors open because then you are risking fire. Think about the use of automatic devices such as door openers, hand dryers and the like. These prevent the need for touch. Where touch can not be avoided, you will need to make sure these areas are frequently cleaned.
‘One great idea is to provide hand sanitiser around your premises. Ideal locations include by the entrance doors , near toilet doors and throughout the venue. Don’t forget to install signage.’
One word of warning, sanitiser is flammable. This risk will need to be added to your fire risk assessment. It might be necessary to protect sanitiser stations from arson risks such as kids playing with matches. Sanitiser should not be stored in direct sunlight or next to ovens. If you are storing large quantities of hand sanitiser, it is advisable to purchase a flame retardant container for this. You must not run out of sanitiser, it is vital. In addition to sanitiser, you need to think about other touch surfaces such as card readers, tables and chairs, soft furnishings and child play areas. You must control the risk and this is likely to result in certain facilities being removed for the time being.
Hopefully, this blog will have helped you with planning around reopening your pub, coffee shop or restaurant and given you lots to think about. There is plenty of free guidance available from the Government and we urge you to read it.
JCH Safety LTD are based in Nuneaton, just outside of Coventry. As a small, independent chartered occupational health and safety practice we are available to help companies with all aspects of health and safety and risk management. If you require any assistance with anything discussed in this blog or with other aspects of safety or fire risk assessment, we would welcome hearing from you.
Please feel free to get in touch on 024 7771 7503.
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