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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Keeping Restaurants Sanitized During COVID-19 in New Jersey

9/28/2020 (Permalink)

man in full PPE spraying disinfectant on a white countertop for COVID-19 Making a plan and taking proactive steps will help keep your employees and customers safe and healthy.

As restaurants continue to reopen for indoor seating in addition to outdoor seating, the need for proper sanitizing and disinfecting is a top priority. With indoor dining, there is much less room for social distancing or for air to circulate, so the restaurant industry must do their best to live up to the new definition of ‘clean’. In order to stay open, restaurants should take these steps to work proactively against the spread of COVID-19. 

Know The Difference in Cleaning, Sanitizing & Disinfecting

These terms have been used quite interchangeably throughout the pandemic, but to properly prevent the spread of COVID-19, you should know the difference between the three. 

  • Cleaning removes germs, dirt, dust, and impurities from surfaces or objects.
  • Sanitizing lowers the number of germs on surfaces or objects to a safe level, as judged by public health standards or requirements according to the EPA. A surface must be cleaned before it is sanitized, and sanitizing does not impact viruses.
  • Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects. Like sanitizing, disinfecting is not completely effective without cleaning the surface or object first. 

What can your restaurant do?

As a restaurant owner, you goal should be to maintain healthy environments by following these tips:

1 | Routine cleaning & disinfection of high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, cash registers, sink handles, light switches, payment terminals, tables, countertops, trays, condiment holders, and more. Create a schedule with your staff or a disinfecting company to ensure your restaurant is cleaned on a continual basis.

2 | Use hospital grade disinfectants that meet the EPA disinfection criteria and are appropriate for the surface. Disinfecting of porous vs. non-porous surfaces differs.

3 | Address your ventilation system. According to the CDC, restaurants should do all they can to increase circulation of outdoor air inside the restaurant by opening windows or prioritizing outdoor seating. Some businesses have invested in special Hepa filters for their HVAC system to help prevent airborne microbes from circulating in the air. 

4 | Change the layout of the restaurant to be in line with social distancing guidelines. Position tables 6 feet apart, offer curbside takeout or delivery, or install physical barriers inside the restaurant. 

Promote Behaviors To Stop The Spread

On top of properly cleaning and disinfecting your restaurant, you should promote behaviors from your staff and customers that aid in reducing the spread of COVID-19. This helps to ensure that both your staff and customers stay healthy and feel safe dining at your business. 

  • Hand hygiene. Require that employees frequently wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. The best way to ensure this would be to create a schedule to wash hands after a certain time period in addition to requiring hand washing before, during, or after preparing food or touching garbage.
  • Enforce mask wearing. Require the wearing of masks on all staff, as well as on customers as they walk through the restaurant or communal areas. 
  • Ensure adequate supplies. Position hand sanitizer in high touchpoint areas to encourage using it, or even at every table if possible. Be sure to be stocked with hand soap and disinfectant wipes. 
  • Post signs and messages. If you have requirements for mask wearing, hand washing, or how to navigate through the restaurant, clearly post them. Put up posters that encourage behaviors to stop the spread of COVID-19. 
  • Make it clear when employees should stay home. Encourage employees that are sick or have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 to stay home, and create policies around when employees are able to return. 
  • Promote no-contact operations. Make it easy for customers to pay their bill without the waiter needing to touch their credit card or accept cash. Many restaurants have moved to online-only menus, with the barcode to scan on the table to reduce the sharing of items. 

Following proper CDC and local guidelines throughout the pandemic is essential to keep restaurants safe, healthy, and open. 

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