A positive COVID-19 case or exposure in your restaurant can be a scary prospect and it may occur even while implementing proper safety and sanitation protocols. Don’t wait for a positive test to think about how your restaurant will respond. Trust20 is helping you plan ahead with these five methods to approach the appropriate response plan for your restaurant.A positive COVID-19 case or exposure in your restaurant can be a scary prospect and it may occur even while implementing proper safety and sanitation protocols. Don’t wait for a positive test to think about how your restaurant will respond.
Trust20 is helping you plan ahead with these five methods to approach the appropriate response plan for your restaurant.
I. Review Local Rules and Regulations
Start by reviewing your local government’s rules and regulations. Some states, like Massachusetts, require that restaurants must shut down for at least 24 hours after an employee tests positive for COVID-19. In other regions, it is only a recommendation.
In addition to requiring a temporary closure, some local governments require that employers support employees who contract COVID-19. In the United States, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act includes provisions that require paid sick leave for employees impacted by COVID-19. You can read more about that act and its impact on the restaurant industry in QSR’s article, “A Ten Point Plan for Restaurant Employers During COVID-19 Crisis.”
II. Create a closing plan
In the event of a positive case, many restaurants are opting to temporarily close the restaurant. This can give you time to deep clean and perform staff contact tracing, as well as give your guests the peace of mind that you are taking their safety seriously. Communicate the closure with your customers and staff, and make sure to cancel any existing reservations.
Pro tip: For help closing your restaurant, 86Repairs created a checklist of everything you need to do temporarily close your kitchen.
III. Be ready to pivot to off-premise
After deep cleaning and following your local regulations, consider keeping your restaurant open for takeout and delivery only. For help on setting up your takeout and delivery program, check out this EAT.NEWS guide on optimizing your off-premise business.
IV. Draft a customer communication statement
Responding quickly and with transparency will show your customers that you are on top of safety, and will build deeper trust with the local community. Clear communication will prevent diners from staying away out of fear, and your community will reward your integrity with support.
Your statement should include:
- News of the positive case, when the staff member last worked, and their potential exposure date
- If any additional staff is undergoing testing or self isolation
- Reporting of the case to your local health department
- Steps you are taking to clean and sanitize your establishment
- How you will continue to prioritize your customer’s health and safety
- Your estimated reopening date if you close
- How customers can order takeout and delivery if you remain open for off-premise dining
- A thank you to your customers for their support!
V. Keep your staff in the loop
To minimize confusion, your staff should know how you plan to respond to a positive COVID test, as well as what support they will receive from your restaurant. Send out an email, or host a virtual staff meeting, ensuring you cover everything in your employee response policy, as well as next steps for the restaurant. This will minimize panic and confusion in the moment, and allow everyone to feel safe and secure proceeding forward.
We’ve based our information on the recommendations of the CDC and the National Restaurant Association. Trust20 is here to support you through this unprecedented time. We encourage you to learn more about staff health and safety at Trust20.co and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you may have.