The food industry is proving remarkably resilient despite the challenges of the pandemic, according to a recent report from safety specialists Steritech. It highlights how restaurants have integrated COVID-19 compliance into their day to day operations.
Eateries who regularly engaged in third party safety assessments hit their targets, streamlined their safety protocols and saw increased consumer confidence as a result. The message from the report is clear – restaurants that prioritize customer safety can better protect their business from pandemic-related shocks.
Steritech looked at over 7,000 Covid safety assessments, undertaken at restaurants across North America, and found that most met, or exceeded, pandemic protocols. From masking up to deep cleaning, it appears that the majority of eateries are going above and beyond to keep their customers safe.
While the debate over mask-wearing continues to rage, the majority of restaurants are taking this safeguard seriously with an employee compliance rate of over 90% in both casual dining and fast food settings.
Handwashing was also rigorously implemented across the board with almost 100% compliance. And it wasn't just staff that were regularly cleaning their hands – guest sanitizers were also widely employed, being readily accessible as customers entered restaurants.
One of the more difficult measures, physical distancing, prompted restaurants to redesign – and in some cases, expand – their dining areas. Whether cordoning off seats, moving tables, or putting up signage, restaurants rose to meet the challenge. Although compliance in this area dipped in the summer months when traffic increased, it quickly bounced back to 100% once eateries adapted.
One area that proved problematic for restaurants was contactless service. Reducing points of contact during order delivery and payment is still proving tough for many, especially considering that resources are strained and many small eateries struggle to make room in their budget for the infrastructure involved. Steritech suggests that this should be a priority for restaurants going forward.
Employee wellness checks and thorough disinfection of surfaces rounded out the restaurants' Covid-focused procedures, and here again they performed strongly with well over 90% compliance.
Restaurants have always been held to a high standard when it comes to safety so integrating pandemic protective measures was a seamless step for much of the industry.
The challenge now will be to maintain these high standards and ensure eateries are ready for what's coming next.
With vaccine passports for indoor dining either already implemented, or on the way, for provinces such as Quebec, Manitoba, British Columbia, and Ontario, restaurants are once again under pressure. It's still not certain what the passport system will mean for the industry in the long-term, but it's likely eateries will be pushed into the role of enforcer, integrating security as well as safety.
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