Turn on your preferred news channel or log on to your social media, and chances are high that the hot topic is the coronavirus, or COVID-19 as it is officially known. There are already over two thousand confirmed cases in the United States, and the outbreak has drastically impacted many fields of work - one of which is the restaurant industry.
In Seattle alone, one of the cities hardest hit by the virus, the Washington Hospitality Association reports a 40% drop in business for many restaurants in the area. This number reflects the fear incited by this disease in the general population, particularly in front-line businesses. As responsible entrepreneurs and members of the community, how can you contribute to the proper communication of safety protocols and help limit transmissions of the virus?
- Communicate information clearly and regularly. Keep staff and hourly workers updated on relevant information, such as refreshers on preventative procedures and proper protocol, and to help allay concerns about the illness. Also, encourage everyone to notify you if any of them have been exposed to or have been in close contact with someone who is sick. In the interest of safety, you can use digital means to conduct regular meetings, or send information via email, SMS, or the company intranet.
- Set the right tone - Make sure to stay calm to help prevent your employees and customers from panicking. Try to strike a balance between cautionary (“Here’s what we need to do to prevent further spread”) and motivational (“We can do this as a team, we’re looking out for everyone’s health”). The right approach to this sensitive topic can mean the difference between a more relaxed atmosphere and a state of preparedness, or nervous chaos among your staff.
- Search for credible sources - There is a lot of unreliable data floating around on the internet, which can be misleading and confusing. Look for credible sources of information, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), established news outlets, and major hospitals. These should be good sources for updates to be disseminated among your staff.
- Make use of visual aids - Many organizations are now providing posters and other promotional material to help spread information about the coronavirus and its prevention. Display these posters prominently around your restaurant.
Tips to Prevent Spread
- Impose self-quarantine. According to the CDC, staff and crew who are experiencing symptoms should refrain from coming to work until they are symptom-free for a 24-hour period (without taking medication). COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough, tiredness, and shortness of breath.
- Advocate exceptional hygiene. Provide customers and staff with an ample supply of alcohol-based hand sanitizers (60-95% alcohol content), preferably in multiple locations within your establishment, as well as easy access to soap and water. Employees must be reminded to clean their hands often, and if using soap and water, must wash their hands for at least 20 seconds. The WHO also advises keeping tissues accessible for those who develop cough and colds, and closed bins in which to dispose of these.
- Clean all frequently touched areas and objects thoroughly. These include (but are not limited to): light switches, workstations, phones, sinks, doorknobs, desks, and keyboards. It’s important to clean these areas properly, with disinfectant, as improper cleaning techniques can just further the spread of pathogens instead of preventing it. Check out the CDC’s guideline for more in-depth instructions in proper sanitation.
Restaurant Worker DO's
- Clean hands regularly with sanitizers containing at least 60% alcohol, or wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Regularly clean all frequently touched areas and objects with disinfectant
- Notify managers/supervisors if you’ve been in close contact with someone exhibiting symptoms
Restaurant Worker DON’Ts
- Come to work if you have any symptoms of illness (100.4 deg F or higher, cough, shortness of breath, etc)
- Touch your eyes, mouth, or nose, particularly after touching high-contact surfaces like doorknobs, tables, phones, etc
- Come within 3 feet of a person who is clearly ill. Take the proper precautions
With effective communication and continued collaboration within the community, we should be able to minimize the spread of this disease. The coronavirus pandemic has brought about a unique set of challenges for SMB owners, and Workstream is here to help. Schedule a chat with us to learn more.
Part-time content marketing writer at Workstream, full-time mom and chef wannabe. Currently catching up on her reading and trying out new recipes in the kitchen.