Hawaii Restaurants Open for Business….and Safety!

After a seeming eternity of uncertainty, Governor Ige and Mayor Caldwell have released guidelines and have allowed our great restaurants to re-open. The Hawaii Restaurant Association worked with the team of advisers in developing the guidelines that provide a balance of guest and staff safety with enabling restaurants, and soon Bars and Pubs – to get their businesses back to serving and growing.

There seems to be a relatively high level of compliance by restaurants that have been providing to-go and delivered meals, and recently in the dining room. Management is aware that their facility needs to keep both their customers and staff safe and protected. Just as tourism will not start to return until travelers feel safe, so do your guests need to feel safe.

Some observations so far:

*The HI DoH, National Restaurant Association and CDC recommend, and the C&C of Honolulu requires, that every restaurant have a written COVID-19 response plan that details the critical elements of how your restaurant maintains social distancing, barriers, sanitizing/disinfecting, menu options, among others. This plan needs to be reviewed with your staff, and posted where they can review it. If you do not have a plan created already, contact me and I can send you a template. Go to  https://hawaiirestaurant.org/ for the Reopening Guidance documents.

In developing this plan, walk in to your restaurant as a guest and note all areas that a guest encounters. Listen to your staff and guests!! Make sure all high-touch areas are addressed in your plan and are adjusted as needed. I have seen plans that include photos of key areas, and maps showing where sanitizer stations are and traffic flow.

*Most likely, your restaurant may be using new types of chemicals for cleaning & sanitizing. Make sure that your SDS is up to date, and that staff knows how to properly and safely use the new items. Spray Bottles MUST be labeled with the name of the chemical inside.

*During the shut down or modified service, DoH Food Establishment Permits may have lapsed. I have seen that the DoH has recently cited a restaurant because their permit has lapsed. Check yours ASAP. If it has expired, submit for the renewal today. There may be a backlog in the DoH office, so I suggest to have a copy of the application available in case your restaurant’s permit is questioned.

*I am not a fan of the air dryers in restrooms. Part of proper handwashing include using a disposable towel to shut off the water handles, but also to open the door when finished. You just cannot be sure the persons before you washed their hands (ick) If you do not have towels available, I recommend that either the door is left open (not the best option) or there are paper towels available by the door.

The HI DoH has resumed on-site inspections. All the standard Food Safety requirements are still in place, but they are providing information to the restaurant on the COVID-19 recommendations. The HI DoH is great about working with restaurants to make sure restaurants are safe for the public.

Contact peter@peterbfoodsafety.com to set up an HRA discounted Food Safety Audit that also includes your COVID -19 response, or for details on upcoming ServSafe Classes. Sign up for the newsletter at http://www.peterbfoodsafety.com

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