The USBG National Charity Foundation released its recommendations to maximize safety when reopening bars and restaurants as local governments mandate statewide shutdowns of bars in Texas and Florida and county shutdowns in California, including Los Angeles County.
Said USBG National Charity Foundation volunteer board member Kim Haasarud, “As painful as it is to say, there is no perfect, completely risk-free way to reopen a bar or restaurant amid a global pandemic marked by a virus that is easily transmittable person-to-person. By taking steps to minimize physical contact and implementing and enforcing best practices, you protect workers and guests and reduce risk.”
The USBG Foundation worked with Natasha Bahrami of the Gin Room in St. Louis, Colleen Hughes of Haberdish in Charlotte, and Director of the United States Bartenders’ Guild National Board of Directors to develop the following recommendations for reopening.
1. No shoes, no shirt, no mask, no service
This is not about denying civil liberties. It’s about protecting a worker population that in large part does not have the benefit of employer-provided health insurance, and in many cases, cannot afford it otherwise.
Require face coverings (over nose and mouth) for all guests while on property except while eating or drinking. That includes ordering inside, waiting on line, using the restroom, conversing, etc. Be sure to include this in all guest-facing communications – on your website, social media channels, newsletter, on the front window, host stand, etc. This may lead to push back from some guests, but you are welcome to refuse service to those who choose to prioritize their own comfort over the safety of your team.
2. Signs everywhere
Perhaps as important as your reopening safety measures, are signs communicating them to guests. As certain areas ease up on state mandated measures, some guests will attempt to challenge your measures – especially if not explicitly posted. It’s recommended that bars and restaurants post signs visible at the entrance communicating that masks are required and also signs visible to guests as they exit the washroom reminding them to wash hands and use provided sanitizer stations.
3. Touchless check-in, ordering, and payment
Allow guests to check in remotely if you can, either through their device or with hosts stationed outside the building. This also ensures accurate record keeping in case contact tracing is necessary.
Accept only touchless orders and payments if you can. From online ordering portals to debit and credit cards to Apple or Samsung Pay there are several options out there for cashless payments. We realize this places limitations on the guest population. It is not a perfect solution. But it minimizes physical contact between staff and guests, which in turn minimizes the risk of infection.
4. Physical distancing
Observe all official physical distancing recommendations. Guests should be required to remain minimally six-feet apart at all times while on property unless they are with members of their own household.
Get creative with physical distancing for back of house staff. Where possible, use induction burners and set up prep areas to keep chefs apart.
5. Employee PPE
Face coverings and gloves should be required for employees at all times. Consider providing PPE to all employees. Some cities are helping to provide businesses with PPE if you have a connection to your Alderperson.
6. Physical barriers
Many bars and restaurants have taken to incorporating transparent physical barriers between their staff and guests. This is especially important around service wells and places where there’s open ice and glassware. An example would be a sheet of clear plastic or Plexiglas hung from the ceiling over the bar.
7. Take it outside
If you have an outdoor area, we recommend limiting service to outdoors. Experts suggest that the risk of infection is significantly lower in outdoor settings.
“I think outdoors is so much better than indoors in almost all cases,” Linsey Marr, an engineering professor and aerosol scientist at Virginia Tech, told the New York Times. “There’s so much dilution that happens outdoors. As long as you’re staying at least six feet apart, I think the risk is very low.”
8. Limit group size
Groups should be limited to no more than 10 people.
9. Food and drink product and table service
We recommend all food and drink be served in disposable containers regardless of where it is to be consumed (including tables). If using washable dinnerware consider two-liter glass water bottles for each table. Ask guests to stack plates at the end of the table when they’re finished eating. Paper straws will be increasingly requested. Consider having these on hand to put guests at ease.
Utilize one-time-use paper menus until a more eco friendly solution is available, or provide a QR code at each table so guests can bring up menus on their phone. Using one page menu cover slips allow your team to sanitize after every use.
11. Hand sanitizer everywhere
At the front door, at the bar, in the restroom, on each table, and everywhere in between.
12. Supplement on-premise service as much as possible
For example, If your area allows to-go cocktails, we recommend ramping up that program. Reduce hours for indoor dining and drinking to optimize sanitation and ventilation.
13. Leverage communication channels
This enables you to communicate with guests your best practices and share the steps you’re taking to keep both them and your staff safe. Use your social media channels to the max. They are your most relevant and up to date channels to communicate real time changes. Guests will thank you.
14. There’s strength in numbers
Form a group of establishments to present a unified message that communicates to guests that you are committed to their safety and can be trusted with their well being. For example, post to social media “No shoes, no shirt, no mask, no service” and tag the other establishments in your group.
15. Be prepared
Many bars and restaurants that are open for regular service are experiencing much higher than normal demand for food and drink to go on top of on-site service. Make sure your staff are ready for the extra volume in peak hours.