This article was submitted by Dr. Larry Caplin, CEO of Bucks County-based DOCS.health. I felt it raised intriguing points as restaurants begin to allow outside dining and, eventually, inside dining during the coronavirus pandemic.
As restaurants open up across the country, patrons should be paying close attention to the way restaurants are handling their staff and patrons. I’ve seen many restaurants on the local news and I shudder when I see how their staff is approaching this virus.
There are 8 critical checkpoints I always look for when deciding whether a restaurant is safe for my family — including the way staff handles menus, tables, time and space, as well as what the staff is wearing.
Here are 8 critical checkpoints recommended that all restaurants follow, and consumers look for.
- Are restaurant employees wearing a mask? A mask doesn’t protect you from the virus; it protects others from getting the virus from you. If a restaurant employee is not wearing a mask and is asymptomatic but contagious, he could potentially spread the virus to you. I’ve seen so many restaurants on the news and their staff isn’t wearing a mask. Those places are putting you at risk.
- Is the restaurant using disposable menus? Restaurants should no longer be using menus passed table to table. Those days are over. Patrons should be looking at a menu that is only for them, then discarded. Think of how close the menu gets to your face. Wiping down the menu doesn’t always kill the virus. The alternative would be to have a glass pane on the table and the menu below the glass.
- Tables should be at least 6 feet apart. This is measured from the back of the two closest chairs
- Tables shouldn’t be turned faster than 10 minutes. It takes time to wipe down the tables, chairs, and every other surface near the patrons. They should be spraying the entire surface area with a disinfectant and wiping the surface down thoroughly. The disinfectant needs time to work. Disinfectants that used to work very quickly have been changed due to environmental laws regarding VOC’s. They do not work as quickly as before.
- 6-feet guidelines should be easy to identify for guests waiting for a table. Restaurants need to establish a clear boundary for patrons who are waiting for a table outside. There should be markers establishing the 6-feet rule so customers can easily stay within their safety zone.
- Is the staff wearing gloves? Part of this has to do with considering if the restaurant is protecting its own staff. If they are not protecting their staff, then why would you expect that they are protecting you? The virus is spread through droplets in the air. Whatever those droplets fall on are now able to transfer the virus. When staff touch the infected area and then touch something that they give to you, they can transfer the virus to you. If the restaurant staff is not wearing gloves and changing them regularly, they are potentially spreading the virus.
- Space between guests – As patrons walk to their table, how close are they getting to other guests? How close is the waiter or hostess getting to the customers? The staff should be trained that there are clear boundaries here of 6-feet or more between the patrons and the staff.
- How is the restaurant screening employees? All restaurants should be screening employees before they enter the restaurant. They can do it manually with a surface thermometer or with a more accurate HIPAA-compliant screening kiosk technology – Capscann – that checks patrons before they enter any restaurant. In the case of an elevated temperature, Capscann will send out a confidential email to the restaurant alerting them of an employee’s elevated temperature and restricts them from entering the building.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Larry Caplin is the CEO of DOCS.health, which set up and organized COVID-19 testing centers across Philadelphia, in addition to testing centers for correctional facilities and state governments. The healthcare logistics company has worked with restaurants, retailers, churches and schools, helping them create the framework for safely opening up their venues.
Food enthusiast. Travel lover. Social media maven.
Independent Journalist. Food marketing/PR expert.