Social distancing: What does it mean and how do restaurants and hotels set up for it?

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Today, restaurants, bars and other eateries are take-out, delivery and drive-thru service businesses. Hotel in-restaurant dining, bars and gyms are temporarily closed. While you’re still open for business, what’s the best way to do social distancing to keep your employees and your guests safe?

While customers are in your business, make sure to ask them to maintain a social distance of six feet. But when customers check in or pick up for their take-out orders, how do you manage social distancing to keep your employees, customers and your community safe?

“It’s a significant distance,” said Lisa Breen, food program technical advisor at Spokane Regional Health District.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), based on what the organization currently knows about the coronavirus, it is spread from person to person within close contact for a significant amount of time.

Restaurants

Breen recommends encouraging your customers to call in their orders before they arrive because the CDC recommends no more than 10 minutes of close contact. Put away or stack all the chairs so no one sits down.

When customers arrive to pick up to-go orders, have them wait in line six feet apart from one another. You may need to put up a sign at the front door or the counter that alerts them to this requirement and consider marking six-foot intervals on the floor. Only allow as many customers into your business so they can maintain social distancing. The line might go out the door. Have them wait in their vehicles outside, and you can call them when their order is ready. Communicate these guidelines early and often in the customer-ordering process so your customer isn’t surprised when he or she is asked to wait in their car.

In the back-of-the-house, where spaces can be tight and include a lot of employees, modernrestaurantmanagement.com recommends spreading out prep areas. The website also suggests discouraging employees from congregating on the premises after their shifts have ended and discontinuing staff meetings—communicate with them via video chat, phone or email to make sure all staff gets the same messages.

While you are practicing social distancing, remember to keep up with your rigorous sanitation routines.

Lodging

Drury Hotels is offering grab-and-go meals. Some chains are considering to-go orders in onsite restaurants to encourage guests to eat in their rooms.

Some hotels, such as the Vagabond Inn in Sacramento, Calif., are asking guests to order food for delivery to their rooms from local restaurants – many are adding delivery and pickup. Some are still using apps such as GrubHub, UberEats and Door Dash. Discourage guests from congregating in public areas by closing off seating areas throughout the hotel.

If you must meet with your staff members in person, meet in large areas to increase the distance between staff members, hold meetings via video conferencing, phone or send messages through email.

As always, maintain rigorous sanitation standards throughout the hotel.

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