Train Your Team to Reopen with Safety in Mind


Establish some basics to protect your staff, your customers and your business.

Three things are essential for reopening your restaurant or foodservice dining room during and after COVID-19:

1. Follow the protocols set by the Public Health Office and authorities in your province.

2. Create your own company training and safety protection plan. Incorporate strict policies and procedures into your company documents: (i.e., HACCP plan, employee handbooks, employee job descriptions, management checklists, performance appraisals).

3. Promote employee commitment at all times. Conduct team meetings to roll out updates to your workforce, well before you reopen to public dining. Ensure all employees understand new roles outlined in revised job descriptions. Have employees sign off on their job descriptions—give them a copy and retain a signed copy in their employee file. 

Rules for resuming service may vary by community. Training and safety measures beyond those required by law are unique to your business. We asked Jim Kostuch, President of TrainCan Inc., for an outline on safety guidelines. Gordon Food Service® offers a training portal in partnership with TrainCan. Here is Kostuch’s advice:

Safe staffing. Education about safety is equally important to hospitality training. Consider:

  • Develop a COVID-19 response leader
  • See ADVANCED.fst CH 10, pg 113, 114 (available through the training portal) 
  • Conduct training and testing on procedures
  • Designate a team member to monitor each shift
  • Implement employee health screening/temperature checks
  • Schedule team shifts so one exposed worker doesn’t endanger the entire staff
  • Develop a plan to identify and contact exposed employees
  • Screen each employee before entering the establishment for work

Hand washing. Teach proper techniques as a first defense against spreading germs:

  • Post signs on doors and near sinks
  • Follow proper hand-washing protocol
  • Wash hands regularly and frequently, and apply alcohol-based sanitizer after customer contact

Social distancing. Maintain staff and customer safety by reducing unnecessary interaction: 

  • Where possible, provide work stations that maintain 2-metre distance
  • Mark work station floors with tape to remind employees to stay in their zone
  • Rework job descriptions to reduce multi-tasking
  • Stagger breaks so employees avoid contact 
  • Space tables and seat unrelated guest parties 2-metres apart
  • Provide marked waiting areas to assure distancing
  • Mark traffic patterns on the floor to reduce guest contact
  • Schedule an employee to enforce customer distancing
  • Where possible, set up dining reservations to reduce congestion

Personal protection equipment (PPE). Address PPE use, whether the law requires it or not:

  • Train staff how to properly secure (and remove) a mask over the mouth and nose
  • Educate team members about glove usage
  • Conduct practice on not touching your face while working
  • Provide masks to guests who arrive without them

Cleaning and sanitizing. Buckle down on cleaning regularly and thoroughly:

  • Follow instructions on cleaning products to assure effectiveness 
  • Train on the difference between sanitizing and washing/cleaning
  • Sanitize counters, tables and chairs, including the edges, after each use
  • Regularly wipe door knobs, pulls and railings with sanitizing wipes
  • Disinfect restrooms at least hourly, and chart the process
  • Disinfect hard floors and deep-clean carpets regularly

Customer contact. Reduce the risk of transmitting germs as people come and go:  

  • Mark dining room traffic pathways to maintain social distancing
  • Offer cashless transactions
  • Promote safe social distancing at smoking areas outside your business

Food safety. Don’t overlook back-of-the-house food and equipment handling: 

  • Educate your team on cleaning plates and utensils with proper detergents and temperatures
  • Clean and sanitize all food-contact surfaces (shelves, prep tables, slicers, pots, etc.)
  • Verify temperatures in refrigerators and freezers

Table safety. Make sure your staff and customers are aware of your table policies:

  • Use disposable paper menus or sanitize laminated menus after every use
  • Provide portion containers or single-use salt/pepper and condiment packets
  • Keep hand sanitizer at each table
  • Eliminate communal condiment dispensers and drink dispenser stations
  • Use wrapped straws

Pickup and delivery. Continue to manage the safety of this vital part of your business:

  • Establish prepay to speed pickup and eliminate unnecessary contact
  • Create a curbside pickup zone to maintain social distancing
  • For indoor pickup, dedicate an area for orders and mark safe spacing boundaries
  • Offer touch-free delivery with sealed packages for tamper-proof assurance
  • Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold by using appropriate transport containers
  • Verify third-party delivery services are meeting your standards

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