Reopening one month on – what have we learned?
It’s now been one month since many hotels, restaurants, pubs and cafes in England have reopened for trade. These sites have developed new ways of working to suit their clientele. As a team, we have noted from the premises that we have visited that the changes include:
— Increased pre-visit information and brand reassurance materials – we particularly like those which have been personalised with company logos explaining the ‘safe and hygiene’ steps taken
— Guides and marshals to sign post customers and ensure that we stay socially distanced and aware of the ‘house rules’
— Carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment and were displaying the COVID-19 Secure poster even in the ladies’ loo! One of our elderly parents really appreciated that
— Eliminated or reduced the risk of transmission of the virus by using disposable menus; menus impregnated with anti-viral agents; the use of Apps for ordering and removal of ‘silver service’ waitressing
— Increased and visible hygiene/ cleaning measures taken. All credit to the waitress in a very busy pub garden last Friday, the hottest day of the year, who explained the COVID risks to a group of customers that were settling down at an uncleared table. The guests stood up; moved away without moaning and allowed her to deep clean the table, table nose and underside as well as the chairs before allowing it to be used. Empowering staff to act in this way provides huge reassurance to us all
— Changed their offering to enable us to ‘grab our breakfast and go’ at several hotels
— Used floor markings and other signage to remind us about social distancing and the ‘one-way’ systems in place. This is becoming even more important now that everyone is wearing a face covering and social distancing is slipping from the forefront of our minds
— Staff using visors so that we can see their smiling welcoming faces and hear them clearly – much more difficult if they are wearing a face covering
Whilst we’ve appreciated and been reassured by these steps taken, what is concerning is the hit and miss approach taken by some.
We were surprised by the swanky hotel who failed to take any track and trace information when we arrived, without a reservation, and tried to seat us at a table barely 75 cm from their other guests without any other mitigations. Admittedly, we were shown to another table once we pointed this out, but this fundamental error spoiled the evening. We are unlikely to return for a long while. From our straw poll over this last weekend, only one site in ten asked and took any track and trace information. Maybe we were unfortunate but if this is replicated elsewhere, then as a sector we have a problem.
Embedding your COVID-19 safe working as standard is an essential. Managers and owners will need to ensure that staff and customers behave as if every day is the first day of reopening and not let standards slip. Continued training, supervision and monitoring must be the way forward.
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