Restaurants and coronavirus, here are the guidelines of the Higher Institute of Health to avoid contagion

A female Waiter of European appearance in a medical mask serves Latte coffee.

After the first timid openings in early May, the feeling is that phase 2 has really only arrived with the shutters up of bars and restaurants. A return to business which, however, is accompanied by new and tightening rules to reduce the risk of contagion (we have already talked about it in this article ): from the obligation to arrange tables and chairs in such a way as to respect a distance of one meter, to use of the mask for waiters, passing through the storage of customer names for 14 days to facilitate the tracing of the contacts of any infected.

To help business managers and customers who are faced with this new way of eating at restaurants, the Higher Institute of Health has prepared a report with the ” Interim indications on the containment of the infection from SARS-CoV-2 and hygiene of the food in the field of catering and food administration “. The document was drawn up by the ISS working group on veterinary public health and food safety COVID-19, with the collaboration of other experts, including Antonello Paparella, food microbiologist at the University of Teramo. Here are all the recommendations for restaurants offering table service.

1) First of all, at the entrance to the venue it is necessary to set up a no-access sign for those with flu-like symptoms or in any case attributable to COVID-19 infections. Restaurant staff should also measure the body temperature, which should not exceed 37.5 ° C, of ​​all incoming customers.

2) The restaurateurs must ensure, even in the areas outside the restaurant, as far as possible, that in any queues for access to the restaurant the correct individual spacing is respected (at least one meter). In addition, to reduce queues, it is appropriate to encourage the use of applications and other digital tools for booking, with notification to users of the availability of seats in the chosen restaurant.

At the entrance of the restaurants, customers must be provided with hand sanitizing gel or spray

3) At the entrance to the restaurant, sanitizing hand sprays or gels must be made available to customers. Furthermore, the restaurant staff must verify that customers wear the masks, of the surgical or reusable type (the so-called community masks), until the moment of consumption.

4) Where the structure of the restaurant allows it, it is better to create obligatory routes, both for customers and waiters, to reach the tables and, when possible, to separate the outgoing customers from those in, perhaps using two different doors .

5) The entrance to the restaurant should in any case preferably take place upon reservation, in such a way as to allow access only to a sufficient number of people to guarantee the correct distancing between customers and staff within the premises.

6) The waiters must wear the surgical mask for the entire duration of the work shift, as also prescribed by the Dpcm of May 17 , and possibly also nitrile gloves, especially during the cleaning operations, as we will see later.

Empty tables of street cafe during New York city lockdown, coronavirus quarantine
The ISS guidelines recommend using outdoor spaces, such as outdoor areas, when possible

7) According to the technical document Inail-Iss, the tables should be arranged at a distance of at least two meters from each other and the seats should ensure adequate spacing of the patrons to comply with the regulations in force. The rules established by the Dpcm, on the other hand, have established that a distance of one meter must be respected between tables and chairs. It is also advisable to privilege, at least in the early days, the use of outdoor spaces, such as dehors and terraces.

8) In rooms where it is not possible to respect the distance between the tables and between the patrons, it is possible to adopt alternative measures such as dividing barriers, which can be made with any material, as long as they are able to effectively shield the spread of droplets. The dividing barriers within the same table are not necessary if customers declare that they are living together.

9) In fast food restaurants, free flow restaurants and in those of the railway, airport and motorway networks, systems should be adopted to avoid the formation of queues when ordering, collecting or paying, for example: table service, alternative methods ordering and payment via app, totem, touch screen (which must then be sanitized regularly), order pick-up on call, etc.

10) If the restaurant is equipped with adequate windows, it is advisable to ventilate the premises regularly. In the event that the environments are equipped with heating / cooling systems, they must exclude the air recirculation function, which can favor the spread of the virus in closed environments (the ISS has published a dedicated report ).

Asian couple man and woman sitting in restaurant eating food with table shield to protect infection from coronavirus covid-19, restaurant and social distancing concept
When safety distances cannot be respected, barriers and separators can be used in restaurants

11) In the restaurant, dispensers of spray or sanitizing gel for the hands must be made available, as well as on the tables, also in various points of the room, in particular in the toilets and at the entrance to the kitchen.

12) Where it is necessary, for example at the checkout, it is advisable to place protective barriers for staff and customers, or, alternatively, to place signs on the floor to indicate the safety distance to be respected.

13) It is better to avoid the use of vending machines and self-service food and beverage displays, or to limit access only to the staff of the venue.

14) It is advisable to replace the classic menus and wine lists with alternative systems, such as lists of the day written on signs, blackboards or screens, smartphone apps or menus printed on disposable sheets of paper. It is also better to avoid serving courses and appetizers in shared plates and favor single portions.

15) All objects used for the service such as condiment containers must be properly sanitized before making them available to customers, or better yet be replaced for the moment with disposable sachets. The tablecloths must be replaced between one customer and another, when disposable materials (placemats) are not used. The same thing goes for the stain cover. Before setting up the table again, all surfaces must be cleaned. During the operations of sanitizing the tables, the staff must wear gloves.

Waiter with a mask disinfects the table of an outdoor bar, café or restaurant, reopen after quarantine restrictions
Between one customer and another, the tables must always be sanitized and the tablecloths replaced

16) To hang jackets and coats, there must be a sufficient number of hangers, positioned at an adequate distance from the tables and organized in such a way as to avoid contact between the garments of different customers.

17) Card payments must be preferred, possibly contactless, to avoid exchanges of money between staff and customers.

18)  To facilitate contact tracing activities , the restaurant must keep customer data for at least 14 days (preferably up to 30) (name, surname, telephone number, date, time, table number) and for each table the name of the staff who performed the service.

The ISS report, after having listed all the recommendations and measures to prevent contagion for restaurateurs and staff of the premises, also offers some indications for customers. Here they are:

1) The patrons must use the mask when they come and go from the table and every time they move around the restaurant, for example to go to the toilets or the cashier.

2) Once inside the venue, however, customers should try to move only as much as necessary. In this regard, parents must carefully watch over the children present at the table.

3) Customers seated at the same table, especially if they are not cohabiting people, must avoid the mixed use of glasses and bottles.