by Michaela Bateman

Social distancing tips to help you operate successfully

Social distancing tips to help you operate successfully

The global Covid-19 pandemic has brought the hospitality sector to a halt and back in March 2020, social distancing was something none of us had heard of before but now it is a term that is part of our everyday language.

Social distancing is particularly challenging for the hospitality sector as Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive of UKHospitality put it, “Hospitality faces a unique problem, in that our businesses are built around socialising”1.

As we look forward to returning from the slow easing of isolation, consumers are wishing to get back to some sort of normality soon, where we can visit cafés and restaurants, but at the same time we expect consumers to remain cautious when interacting with others. According to the NPD Group’s Covid-19 British foodservice sentiment study, 74% of those surveyed were where likely to choose restaurants that can guarantee social distancing2.

We don’t know what a foodservice business will look like post-pandemic, but what we do know is that it will be different, hygiene will be more prominent, some type of social distancing measures will be in place and staff may wear masks and other personal protective equipment.

Many businesses won’t be able to fully open and may have a different type of offering than they had before the pandemic. So now is the time to regroup, plan and prepare to reopen for business under a new normal, whenever that time is right.

Well how do you then prepare and plan for effective social distancing within your out-of-home catering establishment?

We recommend you look at the following aspects:

  • Introduce extra spacing so that the current social distancing measures of 2 metres between staff and customers can be followed, this can be reinforced with the use of divider screens and sneeze guards.
  • Sanitising stations will become an expected feature, choose from free standing, counter, wall, integrated and touch free stations depending on the space and requirements within your establishment.
  • Use social distancing signage such as floor graphics and tape to reinforce the social distancing message and use hygiene signs for hand wash/sanitising.
  • Consider what Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) your staff should wear as it’s important that they feel safe and protected when serving customers in a friendly and inviting way. You may want to consider fabric face masks that look less clinical, giving a friendlier feel and provide hand sanitisers for easy and regular application during service.
  • A more frequent cleaning schedule will become a big part of the new process that you will need to put in place, in order to protect employees and customers. Tables, chairs and menus will need to be sanitised every time a table changes and likewise any social distancing equipment will need to be cleaned regularly.
  • This is the optimum time to shout about your brand as customers will remember if your premises were recognisable clean, safe and well run. 50% of customers with a bad experience with cleanliness will spread the word3. So why not add some branding to your social distancing equipment and market your business by having customised divider screens and sanitising stations with your corporate brand message.

To guide you through the options and use of social distancing equipment available, take a look at our new guide: ‘Helping you with…social distancing – the right safe space for you’.

We may not be able to enjoy out-of-home catering experiences like we used to, but now is the time to rethink and evaluate how you can offer customers the best experience possible which has been very much missed by us all. I certainly will jump at the chance to visit my local café when it opens!

1Caterer, April 2020
2Footprint, May 2020
3Modern Restaurant Management 2019

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