We are on the cusp of a new “normal.” While some regions are optimistic in anticipation of the COVID-19 curve to flatten, others are struggling to keep up with the rising number of identified cases of the novel virus.
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According to recent data shared by Open Table, a digital restaurant reservation platform, the pandemic has had an enormously negative effect on the restaurant industry. Although the jobs of more than five million food service workers have been impacted recently, restaurateurs and leaders from related industries around the world are trying to counter this consequence by keeping a few services operational, such as food delivery and takeout.
Despite everyone’s best efforts, food and grocery delivery services—which are categorized as essential—are not completely without risk, but can be maintained through some thoughtful best practices.
Implement a Cashless System
While studies are still trying to determine the survival rate of the COVID-19 on various types of surfaces, it is a good idea to break the chain of infection by minimizing hand contact as much as possible. Implementing an online payment system (with tips included, if so desired), significantly cuts down the chances of cross contamination through currency exchange at the point of delivery.
Leave a Digital Trace by Shopping In-App
Utilizing first or third-party app services to place an order or shop for groceries is another great way to limit person-to-person contact and practice social distancing. One of the many benefits of shopping for ingredients or ordering meals online is that it enables customers to leave instructions and track their deliveries.
From a business owner’s standpoint, it also helps maintain the traceability system of not just food flow, but also the movement of staff members. In the event an employee or a customer tests positive for the infection, mapping the individuals who encountered the affected individual becomes less of a strenuous task. Incentivize shopping in-app to encourage more customers to use the digital platform and sign up for text alerts.
Develop a Contingency Plan
In the case of COVID-19, even though studies indicate that the virus does not transmit via food or water, the virus does transmit quite easily via human-to-human contact. While good training programs and personal hygiene measures may be in place, they are not fool proof. Develop an action plan for employees and managers on what the next steps are in case a member of the team has been infected. Build an emergency response team and review the existing crisis communication channels. Proactive measures can save a lot of frustration and confusion.
Ensure that Resources are Accessible
Help food service and delivery employees combat chances of infection by providing them with the right resources. Although there is a deficit in many regions for gloves, masks, and sanitizers, it would help employees to have access to clean water and soap to minimize and control the spread of viruses, bacteria, and other disease-causing agents. Consider alternating their rosters so that their chances of being exposed daily are reduced.
Reinforce Existing Cleaning and Disinfection Programs
Increased frequency of cleaning and disinfecting procedures is necessary for delivery vehicles and reusable insulated bags. Ensure that there is a separation between the area designated for bagging items and the area that is collecting insulated bags. In addition to the cleaning and disinfection program, it also would be beneficial to closely monitor your waste management program. Used gloves and masks should be properly disposed of and not contaminate the operational areas nearby.
While it remains to be seen what the full effect of the COVID-19 pandemic will look like on a global scale, every little positive measure taken to counter the chances of cross-infection counts, and will eventually lead to a more promising path ahead.