Restarting the economy is not going to be easy. Because the fight against COVID-19 is ongoing, business owners need to play an active role in mitigating the spread of this novel coronavirus. If you run a taproom, tasting room, restaurant, or any business that places a high volume of people in close proximity to one another, your caution needs to be doubled.
For all the breweries, distilleries, and restaurant owners out there, here are five important steps you need to take before you reopen your business to the public.
1. Pick a Date and Coordinate
When facing any crisis, timing is critical. Don’t rush to reopen the second the economy reopens. As tempting as it may be to reopen in a hurry, this is your best chance to establish new, health-conscious habits for you and your staff. This will also impact your patrons returning to their favorite spots.
Reach out to your employees, talk to them about their availability and their comfort coming to work. Based on their feedback, start to assemble your reopening team.
2. Redesign with the CDC in Mind
You will need to redesign more than your floor plan. Putting social distance between your tables and chairs will help combat COVID-19, but it’s hardly the only way disease can spread in a restaurant.
If there are places where customers tend to form lines in your store (at the bar, near the entrance, in the bathrooms, etc.), place markers down on the floor six feet apart to help people maintain a social distance.
Be ready to print fresh menus for every customer or to clean your menus with sanitizer that is at least 80% alcohol after each use. Have a dress code ready for your workers that takes masks and gloves into account.
3. Plan to Open with Half Your Staff
Bringing back your entire staff every day is not going to be feasible in the near future.
First and foremost, your new and socially distanced floor plan should reduce the amount of customers you can serve at a time, so your full waitstaff won’t be necessary to handle customers.
That said, the situation is more complicated than coping with a new layout. You need to be ready to handle more frequent and longer sick leaves. If one of your staff members gets sick between now and the invention of a vaccine, they should stay home until they are sure they aren’t contagious. Adjusting to a reduced-staff model will give you greater flexibility to rotate workers in and out as needed.
Lastly, reducing your staff both in the brewery, distillery, kitchen, and on your floor will reduce the likelihood of spreading disease from employee to employee or from employee to customer.
4. Keep Morale in Mind
Your staff will be stressed during this time, and they will make mistakes along the way. Being supportive and understanding will be much more helpful than reprimanding your team.
This does not mean you need to be an unfettered ray of sunshine 24/7. Right now, forced positivity will come across as disingenuous and won’t really set your staff at ease.
Be candid with your staff and communicate with them as the situation changes. Set clear expectations about your new health and safety guidelines, make yourself available to answer any questions they have.
5. Stay Informed
Don’t rely on your gut-instincts during a pandemic. There are dozens of resources available to help you navigate your business through this crisis, so take advantage of them.
To start, check out KEG’s COVID-19 Resource center and get familiar with recommendations from the CDC, the National Beer Wholesalers Association, and other vital resources.
These steps are just the tip of the iceberg. If you have more questions about reopening your business during the COVID-19 epidemic, reach out to us any time. KEG consulting is here to help businesses like yours tackle these challenges.