COVID secure venue

Published: 31/03/2021

After what’s felt like a pretty long and bleak winter in lockdown, we finally got the news we’ve all been waiting for - a breakdown of when businesses in the hospitality sector can open once more. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson laid out his stepped plan for reopening the country, and for anyone who missed it, it looks like this:

  • 12th April - Restaurants and public houses will be allowed to serve customers seated outdoors in groups of up to six people from separate households or a group of any size made up of two households only.
  • 17th May - Hospitality businesses can welcome customers indoors in groups of up to six people from separate households or a group of any size made up of two households only plus groups seated outdoors can be no more than 30 people.
  • 21st June - All restrictions will be lifted and nightclubs can reopen.

While the nation breathed a collective sigh of relief that the end is in sight, the announcement signalled an important time for businesses in hospitality - time to get prepared. 

But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with our nine-step guide for reopening your pub, restaurant, or bar in a safe, secure, and effective manner post-lockdown. 

1. Risk assessment

Kick your preparation off with a thorough risk assessment - just like a health and safety risk assessment you’d carry out within your business, the aim is to identify and take reasonable steps to protect your workers and customers from COVID.

According to the Health and Safety Executive, as part of your risk assessment you must:

  • Identify what activities or situations could cause virus transmission
  • Consider who might be at risk
  • Work out the likelihood of someone being exposed, and then
  • Act to remove the activity/situation or control the risk.

Top tip: You’ll find a COVID risk-assessment template here.

Once completed, you need to share the results with your workforce and ideally display it on your website as well as within your venue. It’s your duty as a business owner to take any necessary steps to reduce risk, so for example, you might:

  • Use screens to separate workers and customers where possible.
  • Identify any potentially vulnerable employees and offer additional protection/support.
  • Ensure anyone feeling unwell stays away.
  • Guarantee high levels of cleanliness and hygiene.

2. Social distance

We’ve all become so accustomed to social distancing now it’s hard to remember a time when it didn’t exist, but as a business owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure this rule is adhered to within your venue.

One of the biggest ramifications social distancing is likely to have pertains to capacity - you won’t be able to fit as many customers in safely as pre-COVID so crunch the numbers and work out how many people can safely visit your business when you re-open. 

Besides capacity, there are other things to think about and potentially implement to comply with social distancing, improve cleanliness/safety, and reduce transmission risk:

  • Enforce the use of personal protective equipment i.e. face masks and gloves.
  • Supply hand sanitiser for staff and customers.
  • Use floor markings and implement a one-way system to reduce crowding and congestion.
  • Limit face to face contact by introducing side by side seating and working arrangements.

3. Rearrange

On the topic of social distancing and in order to keep customers adequately spaced, it’s sensible to rearrange your tables and furniture to allow for easy compliance. 

Ideally, tables should be two meters apart, this will keep all parties safe as well leave ample room for your workforce to manoeuvre your venue safely. 

An effective solution in some instances is to implement a ‘sushi-bar-style’ side-by-side seating arrangement - this way your customer will avoid risky face-to-face interactions.

If you’re worried about what rearranging your furniture will mean for your ordering system, don’t be. With an EPOS system (like ours!) you’ll have access to advanced table management meaning any new adjustments will be reflected in your system, eliminating the risk of any awkward mishaps.

4. Table service

Just as table-service-only was the rule after the first lockdown was eased, it will be this time, so plan ahead for table service within your business. 

Put together some informative signs detailing what customers need to do and leave them on tables and display them around your premises so everyone knows what’s what.

The aim of table service is to minimise interactions as much as possible, and a great tool at your disposal to aid in this mission is order & beepaid - it’s a super simple and easy to use solution for safe ordering and payment. 

Order & beepaid works using QR codes - the popularity of which has gone through the roof during the pandemic - and all your customers have to do is scan your custom QR code, browse your menu, order, and pay all without leaving their seat. 

Pssst: find out more about how order & beepaid could benefit your hospitality business here.

5. Track and Trace

Another requirement you’ll still need to adhere to for now is the government’s track and trace effort. When customers enter your premises you’ll need to gather contact details so in the event of a positive test you can quickly and efficiently help prevent an outbreak. 

You’ve got options when it comes to how you decide to participate, whether it’s pen and paper or turning to your tech, for example:

  • You can use your EPOS system to gather customer information, or
  • Use beepaid to add one contact per table. 

The beauty of modern solutions is you’ll never need to worry about losing or misplacing your customer data and facing a slap on the wrist should you be asked for it - failure to comply can result in some pretty hefty fines. 

6. Hygiene and cleanliness

We’re not going to beat a dead horse - we are all hyper-aware of the importance of hygiene and cleanliness thanks to COVID - but as part of your reopening prep it’s important you put systems and processes in place to ensure standards are kept high.

This will include the regular cleaning of frequently touched surfaces, such as:

  • Tables
  • Door handles
  • Counters
  • Chairs, and
  • Payments equipment.

Plus, a hand sanitising station is a must for your employees and customers alike.

The impact of proper ventilation on hygiene has also come to the fore in the past 12-months, so ensure a steady flow of air by making sure windows and doors are open when possible. 

7. Staff

We can only imagine how eager hospitality business owners must be to bring their employees back to work and while it’s an exciting time it’s important to strike the right balance between having enough staff to meet demand and reducing numbers to comply with distancing.

Spend time ahead of reopening to work out how many employees you’ll need on-site to ensure the smooth running of your business and meet the new capacity of consumers. 

Meanwhile, make sure any returning staff are fully trained on the new measures and/or tech you’ll be introducing including:

  • Social distancing
  • Cleanliness 
  • The outcome of your risk assessment
  • Payment systems, and
  • Track and Trace.

Remember: Your EPOS system has heaps of staff management functionality built-in to make your life easier.

8. Take stock

After a long period of closure it’s inevitable you’ll need to spend some time managing your existing and required stock. 

Given the challenging climate and how all businesses will get the green light to open at the same time, chances are there’ll be tough competition for ingredients, so work out what you’ll need in plenty of time and reach out to your suppliers to work out what you can order and when.

Since capacity will be restricted, to begin with, it might be a good idea to condense your menu for a period of time - this will make life easier for your potentially reduced kitchen staff and mean less stock management for you.

Make use of the smart stock control system built into your EPOS equipment to streamline this whole process - you can track inventory right down to the ingredient level, set up automated stock alerts and even purchase orders using this nifty tech.

9. Marketing

After putting the hard work in and following steps one through eight, it’s time to start making some noise about your grand reopening!

Remember some consumers will be anxious about the world reopening, so share with them all the safety measures you’ve put in place to put them at ease.

Use all the channels at your disposal to spread the word, including:

  • Social media 
  • Website
  • Posters and displays
  • Emails.

Good to know: EPOS offers Mailchimp integration making reaching out to your customer database a doddle!

Next steps

At takepayments we wish you every success in the reopening of your business! If you want to get your hands on all the functionality order & beepaid or our EPOS systems have to offer ahead of time, reach out today and we’ll have you up and running in no time.

We know it’s both an exciting and busy time for business owners, but by making use of the tools at your disposal you can take some of the stress off your plate and ensure your reopening reaches its’ potential! 

Bryony Pearce

Bryony Pearce

Copywriter

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