Employees in the hospitality industry are accustomed to working in close proximity to each other and teams develop close-knit, personal relationships. As a restaurant operator, your business runs best when each employee feels supported and the team is working smoothly together. An element of keeping your team intact is having a plan in place for if an employee is exposed to or shows symptoms of COVID-19.
If an employee has been exposed to coronavirus, but is not yet showing symptoms, the National Restaurant Association outlined the following options:
- Have the employee stay home for the recommended 14 day period after exposure
- Have the employee return to work and require face masks, temperature checks, and six feet of social distancing. Exposed employees should also monitor symptoms using the CDC’s Coronavirus Self Checker.
- If an employee begins to exhibit symptoms, they should be sent home immediately.
- If the employee is currently working and exhibits coronavirus symptoms, they should be sent home immediately, avoiding public transportation.
- If the employee is at home and exhibits coronavirus symptoms, designate who employees should contact--whether it is the manager on duty or your food and safety manager.
Employees with symptoms should schedule a test as soon as possible or reach out to their health care provider, and follow the CDC’s recommendations for what to do when sick.
If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, it is your responsibility as a restaurant operator to notify all employees of a positive case, and begin contact tracing.
- Identify any co-workers in close contact with the employee in the last two weeks, either by asking the employee or reviewing shift schedules. Close contact is defined as within six feet for more than 15 minutes.
- Contact all employees who were in close contact with the infected person, and require that they follow proper exposure protocol.
If your employees are exposed to COVID-19 or are asymptomatic, they should not return to work until the 14 day self isolation period is over. Sick employees should wait until 3 days without fever have passed without the use of fever-reducing medications, or meet the CDC's requirements for discontunuation of isolation.
Depending on local rules and regulations, you may also require a negative COVID-10 test, or medical clearance note. Continue to temperature check upon their return to work, and send employees home immediately if symptoms re-appear.
Last, but certainly not least, do not forget to let employees know how you will support them, including how to access paid leave or health benefits. The strength of the hospitality industry comes from the community. Your employees will support the implementation of your health and safety measures if you show them the same respect and communication that you offer to your diners.