Wednesday 8 July, 2020

'New Normal': MoH issues guidelines for reopening of bars, restaurants

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iStock image

The Ministry of Health on Tuesday issued guidelines for the reopening of bars and dine-in services at restaurants.

Bars are scheduled to reopen on June 22. In-house dining will also resume on that date.

Owners are required to modify the layout of their establishments to ensure tables remain six feet apart by reducing seating capacities or marking of tables/stools that are not for use.

They are also encouraged to limit group seating to 10 per table.

The Ministry said it is the responsibility of the owners to communicate the guidelines to their staff and patrons via announcements, signs, bulletins, websites and social media.

The owners are required to ensure all staff members are trained; virtually or in-person on the guidelines.

Sanitation of facilities

1. Establish a housekeeping schedule to incorporate routine cleaning and sanitisation with regular, frequent, and periodic cleaning of seating areas (tables, stools, chairs, counters and bar tops); all surface areas, restrooms and shared items;

2. Ensure cleaning and sanitisation before opening and at the close of business. Surfaces should be cleaned frequently throughout opening hours;

3. Ensure that high-touch surfaces such as door knobs, tables, stools, chairs, benches,
countertops, restrooms and food/bar contact surfaces are properly disinfected on a frequent or periodic basis, using a bleach solution of 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) per gallon of water (US 3.8L) or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water or 70 percent alcohol solutions or other EPA-approved disinfectant;

4. Where possible, set-up hand sanitizer dispensers at specific areas;

5. Ensure that cleaning or disinfecting product residues are not left on table surfaces, as residues could cause allergic reactions or cause someone to ingest the chemicals;

6. Clean shared objects (e.g., payment terminals, tables, countertops/bars, receipt trays, condiment holders) between each use;

7. Ensure safe and correct use and storage of disinfectants to avoid food contamination and harm to employees and other individuals; and

8. Routinely clean coolers and insulated bags used for delivery of food with non-hazardous chemicals.

Personal hygiene

1. Post visual alerts (eg, signs, posters) at the entrance and in strategic locations eg,
restrooms; point(s) of sale and cash registers, to provide instructions (in appropriate languages) about hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette. Instructions should include wearing a cloth face covering or facemask for source control, and how and when to perform hand hygiene;

2. Provide an adequate supply of 60 percent alcohol-based hand sanitizer at hand washing facilities or stations (fixed or portable), soap and running water for use before entry; paper towels and tissue. It would be ideal to have easy open-close taps or pedal actuated or hands free taps;

3. Endorse and encourage proper mask etiquette when entering and exiting the establishment. Masks should be removed only during the consumption of any beverage or food acquired at the establishment;

4. Endorse and encourage proper cough and sneeze etiquette within the establishment with a tissue or use the inside of their elbow;

5. Anyone who falls ill or exhibits any of the following symptoms (fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, muscle pain, headache, sore-throat, or recent loss of taste or smell) should not be allowed to enter the establishment;

6. Encourage employees and clients to frequently wash hands while at the establishment. The use of touch-free technology for sinks, bathroom fixtures is encouraged. Elbow taps may also be utilised;

7. Anyone with a potential exposure to someone exhibiting any of the above symptoms or confirmed case of COVID-19 should not enter the establishment until the period of quarantine ends (to be certified by County Medical Officer of Health).

Staff member or patron/client

1. Workers and patrons who are sick or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 should not be allowed entry;

2. All persons are required to wear a face covering mask when entering the premises and undergo screening with a contactless thermometer for fever and symptoms consistent with COVID-19;

3. If a person has a temperature < 37.5˚C and otherwise without symptoms consistent with COVID-19, then he/she is allowed to enter;

4. If a person has a temperature > 37.5˚C with fever or strongly associated symptoms consistent with COVID-19, then he/she is not allowed into the premises;

5. Notify local health officials, the County Medical Officers of Health (list of contacts appended) if a person diagnosed with COVID-19 has been in the facility and communicate with staff and patrons about potential exposure while maintaining confidentiality as required;

6. Identify an area to separate anyone who exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 during hours of operation;

7. Establish procedures for safely transporting anyone who becomes sick at the establishment to their home or a healthcare facility;

8. Advise those with exposure to a person diagnosed with COVID-19 to seek the nearest healthcare provider and/or call hotline for symptoms;

9. Close off areas used by the sick person and do not use the area until after cleaning and disinfection (advised by County Medical Officer of Health);

10. Advise staff and patrons with symptoms of COVID-19 or who have tested positive for COVID-19 not to return to the establishment untill his/her symptoms cease as confirmed by a Medical Practitioner with supporting documentation;

11. Conduct daily health checks (e.g., temperature screening and/or or symptom checking) of staff safely and respectfully, and in accordance with any applicable privacy laws and regulations; and

12. Encourage employees who are sick or who have had recent contact with a person with COVID-19 to stay at home. Develop policies that encourage this to remove employees fear of reprisal.

Maintaining healthy operations at the establishment 

1. Modify layout of establishment to ensure tables remain six feet apart by
reducing seating capacities or marking of tables/stools that are not for use;

2. As far as possible limit group seating (number of persons at establishment together) to 10 per table;

3. Place larger groups in an isolated area of the establishment. Use partitions to achieve this if a separate room/space is not available. Where possible, separate rooms or spaces should be utilised;

4. Install physical barriers, such as sneeze guards and partitions, particularly in areas where it is difficult for individuals to remain at least six feet apart eg. restaurant kitchens, bars, at cash registers, host stands, or food pickup areas where maintaining physical distance of at least 6 feet is difficult;

5. Provide physical guides, such as tape on floors and signage, to ensure that individuals remain at least six feet apart. Consider providing these guides where lines form, in the kitchen, and at the bar;

6. Rotate and stagger shifts to limit the number of employees in the establishment at any one time;

7. Stagger and limit dining times to limit the number of customers in the establishment at any one time;

8. Consideration and preference should be given to outdoor dining, where applicable;

9. For dine-in options consider order ahead options to reduce the time spent in the establishment;

10. Ask patrons to wait away from establishment (eg in cars) while waiting for pick-ups or waiting to be seated;

11. Offer drive through, curb side take out, or delivery options where applicable;

12. Avoid offering any self-serve food or drink options, such as buffets, salad bars, and drink stations as much as possible. If necessary, gloves should be used during this time and should be disposed of afterwards. Facemasks to also be worn whilst at these stations;

13. Ensure that each person entering the establishment is given a briefing on the social distancing measures utilised in the establishment (eg how and where they will be seated, where they can find sanitation materials);

14. Use disposable menus/place settings, as far as possible;

15. Ensure proper ventilation systems for areas of congregation using preferably natural air in the first instance, and/or limited use of air condition; and

16. Close shared spaces such as break rooms, if possible; otherwise stagger use and clean and disinfect between use.

Shared objects at the establishments

1. Avoid use of shared items such as menus, condiments and food containers. As far as possible use disposable, digital or static signage to display menus, single serving condiments and no-touch trash cans;

2. Encourage employees to limit the sharing of objects (eg tools, equipment or supplies);

3. Ensure adequate supplies of high touch materials (eg serving spoons) to minimise sharing as far as possible. Otherwise, the use of supplies and equipment should be limited to one group of workers at a time and should be cleaned and disinfected between each use;

4. With regard to payment when cash is exchanged, avoid hand to hand contact by placing receipts and money on a tray or counter. Where possible, reference is given to the use of automated payment machines; and

5. If the use of disposable items is not feasible, ensure that all non-disposable items are properly cleaned and sanitised after each customer use.

Responsibility of employer

1. Promote healthy hygiene practices at the establishment at all times;

2. Intensify cleaning, sanitation and disinfection and ventilation of the establishment;

3. Encourage social distancing and enhance spacing at the establishment;

4. Train all employees on health and safety protocols;

5. Develop and maintain procedures to check for signs and symptoms of illnesses of all employees;

6. Develop and implement a plan for ill employees or patrons and communicate this plan to members of staff;

7. Prepare a contact listing of the relevant authorities that need to be informed of any ill persons;

8. Provide proper signage for patrons (eg sanitizer location, mask wearing signs, food pick up/ordering locations).

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