The coronavirus pandemic has effectively changed all major aspects of our lives in the past few months, the joys of eating out certainly being one of them. And while the restaurants might soon open under Unlock 1.0, a general sense of apprehension prevails. As the number of coronavirus cases in India soars by the day, the idea of going out, sitting in a restaurant, touching surfaces, and eating food that must have passed a number of hands still remains to be an intimidating one. That said, the idea of all these restaurants and eating joints opening up soon does spark a sense of joy for so many and can perhaps bring out a change that we all want, given that all the rules and protocols are followed.
A new set of rules and guidelines has been issued from the government for the owners and patrons preparing for the re-opening of restaurants from Monday onwards. It has already been established by the centre that only the restaurants and eateries that do not fall in the containment zone are allowed to open right now.
Intrigued to find out how the experience of eating out would change now? Here are the government guidelines that'll help you with a perspective:
Restaurants have been asked to install mandatory hand hygiene (sanitizer dispenser) and thermal screening provisions at the entrance.
If possible, staggering of visitors has been advised.
Staff members and patrons will be allowed entry inside the restaurant only with a face mask. The same needs to be worn at all times inside the restaurant.
Instead of dine-ins, takeaways are going to be encouraged.
The food delivery person as designated by the restaurant would be thermally screened. They would be leaving the parcels at customer's doors instead of directly handing it over to them.
Only asymptomatic staff members and patrons will be allowed inside the restaurant.
The restaurants have been advised to use separate entrances and exits for patrons, staff and goods/supplies.
The restaurant management has been directed to install posters/standees/AV media on preventive measures about COVID-19.
To ensure social distancing normal, adequate manpower needs to be deployed by the restaurant management.
Employees who are at higher risk of contracting the infection (older, pregnant employees and those with underlying medical conditions) have been advised to take extra precautions. They should preferably not be exposed to any front-line work where they are required to get in direct contact with the public. Restaurant management has also been asked to facilitate work from home wherever feasible.
Restaurants have been asked to ensure proper crowd management in the parking lots and outside the premises of the restaurants as well.
Seating arrangements are to be made in a way where adequate social distancing is ensured. Not more than 50% of the seating capacity to be permitted in restaurants.
All those patrons who have to wait for their turn, need to be seated in a designated waiting area with norms of social distancing.
If a restaurant offers valet parking, then it should be handled carefully with only one operating staff conducting the function while wearing face covers/ masks and gloves as appropriate. Proper disinfection of steering, door handles, keys, etc. of the vehicles also needs to be taken up.
Specific markings may be made with sufficient distance to manage the queue and ensure social distancing in the premises.
Restaurant management to practice precautions while handling supplies, inventories, and goods. Proper queue management and disinfection to be organised.
Staff members and patrons to maintain physical distancing of a minimum of six feet when queuing up for entry and inside the restaurant as far as feasible.
The restaurants have been advised to use disposable menus.
Use of good quality disposable paper napkins to be encouraged against the cloth napkins.
Buffet services also need to ensure social distancing norms among patrons.
The number of people in the elevators to be restricted while maintaining social distancing norms.
Escalators with one person on alternate steps to be encouraged.
The guidelines of CPWD to be followed for air-conditioning/ventilation, which inter alia emphasises that the temperature setting of all air conditioning devices should be in the range of 24-30 degrees, relative humidity should be in the range of 40-70%, intake of fresh air should be as much as possible and cross ventilation should be adequate.
Large gatherings/congregations would continue to remain prohibited.
Restaurants have been directed to ensure effective and frequent sanitisation within the premises with a special focus on lavatories, drinking, and handwashing stations/areas.
Cleaning and regular disinfection (using 1% sodium hypochlorite) of frequently touched surfaces (doorknobs, elevator buttons, handrails, benches, washroom fixtures, etc.) to be made mandatory in all guest service area and common areas.
Proper disposal of face covers/masks/ gloves left by patrons and/or staff needs be ensured by the management.
Deep cleaning of all washroom surfaces to be ensured by the restaurant at regular intervals.
Restaurant staff/waiters to wear a mask and hand gloves at all times and take other required precautionary measures.
Contactless mode of ordering and digital mode of payment (using e-wallets) to be encouraged.
Tables to be sanitized after each time the customer leaves.
In the kitchen, the staff should follow social distancing norms as specified for all workplaces. Kitchens area must be sanitized at regular intervals.
Here's What The Restaurant Management Needs To Do In Case Of A Suspected Patient
a. Restaurants need to immediately inform the nearest medical facility or call the state or district helpline for coronavirus assistance.
b. Place the ill person in a room or area where they would be isolated from others.
c. Provide a mask/face cover to the suspect until medical help arrives and they get examined by a doctor.
d. A risk assessment will be undertaken by the designated public health authority (district RRT/treating physician) and accordingly, further action to be initiated regarding the management of the case, his/her contacts, and the need for disinfection.
e. Disinfection of the premises mandatory in case the person is found positive.
While these sound like a lot of rules and guidelines, the lack of compulsion in so many of these rules is a matter of worry. Let's just hope that the restaurants duly follow all these guidelines so that this does not end up snowballing into a huge problem.