The long-awaited guidelines for restaurants reopening have been published, much to the relief of restaurateurs and customers.
Now it’s up to owners to ensure the safety of their diners and staff, but are they ready for this?
Biotech company Biodx has outlined the new government regulations and looked at whether they are effective or not.
Restaurants must conduct a screening questionnaire on guests and can refuse admission if they think the guest is a safety risk.
In a statement, the company said that this would require extra time and effort, but a questionnaire is a small ask.
It can also be tricky to know if a guest poses a safety risk as they could have an asymptomatic infection.
No person can enter the restaurant without a cloth mask or any homemade item that covers the nose and mouth.
Biodx says a ‘homemade item’ may not be safe because a mask needs to completely cover the nose and mouth.
Masks must be worn at all times except when eating and drinking.
This is where the social distancing rule is most important.
“There’s no reason a family shouldn’t feel perfectly safe going out to eat together if they live in the same house. But they have to feel they can trust the quality of the restaurant’s disinfection and the staff’s compliance to the restaurant’s behaviour protocols,” explained CEO of Biodx Burt Rodrigues.
All guests must sanitise before entering the premises.
Not all sanitisers are equal therefore restaurants will need to check the quality and safety of the sanitisers and disinfecting products used.
There must be at least 1.5m between the customer and the service counter as well as queuing customers. Customers should also be seated 1.5m apart and the waiting staff to stand at least a metre from the table.
This is problematic for restauranteurs who want to be able to have enough customers to cover business costs and still make a profit. The booze ban and reduced capacity make this difficult, but the rule is essential to safety.
Menus to be replaced with non-touch options or sanitised after each use.
This is easy enough to implement and suggestions include writing on a blackboard or choosing single-use paper menus.
The disinfectant company says governments and the public need to trust restaurant professionals to run their businesses.
“The South African food and beverage industry are very professional and diligent, already applying HAACP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) principals and Covid-19 disinfection procedures to reinforce good food and beverage practices during this pandemic,” concludes Frederic Robichon, a food and beverage industry expert Advisor at Biodx.