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New Table Service Protocols for BC Restaurants

Worksafe BC has just released its reopening protocols for local bars, restaurants and pubs. Having read it in full it’s clear there are strange days ahead, but after months of take-out and delivery service BC diners will adapt and take what they can get.

I’ve cut and pasted the “general considerations” and table service guidance below, but all diners, workers and restaurateurs should familiarize themselves with the complete document here.

General Considerations

Consider work activities that could be done remotely (e.g., dispatch, customer service, administration) and change work model accordingly.

Modify or eliminate in-person meetings and morning huddles; when in-person meetings are required, hold them outside where the risk of transmission is lower.

Eliminate hand-to-hand contact with customers (handshakes, fist bumps, high-fives, etc.). Rearrange waiting areas – consider things like removing chairs and benches, asking guests to wait outside for a table, posting signs, stanchions, tape on floor, etc.

Create separate take-out and dine-in protocols. Create a door or path separate from dine-in customers for payment and/or pickup if possible. Introduce clear signage for take-out versus dine-in and in and out doors.

Consider having customers seat themselves by displaying table numbers. Have a greeter behind plexiglass assign tables.

Maintain a 2 metre distance from other workers and guests. If work activities mean that physical distancing cannot be maintained at all times, employers may consider the use of masks as an additional measure.

Provide hand sanitizer at the door for customers to use when they enter the restaurant. Consider adding a plexiglass barrier at the bar and payment areas.

Create and maintain a protocol for accessing and using washroom facilities where a 2 metre or 6 feet separation cannot be maintained.

Manage break times and schedules (stagger) to support maintaining physical distances between people.

Support workers with medical resource information that includes telephone numbers and website addresses for key medical, mental health, and bullying resources, and approved sources for COVID-19 information.

Ensure workers have a health and safety contact person available for every shift (joint occupational safety and health committee member, representative, or otherwise) to support that protocols are being followed and understood.

Encourage key drop deliveries to reduce contact between delivery workers and front-of-house workers.

Table Service

Have guests pour their own water by providing water in a bottle or jug at the table. Or prepour water glasses at the bar.

Remove buffets and other self-service amenities.

Have servers leave food and drinks at the front of the table and let guests pass them after the server has stepped away.

Remove one chair per table and use that space as a designated place for the server to come to the table, similar to the open side on a booth. This ensures that workers don’t have to squeeze in between customers.

Remove salt and pepper shakers, sauce dispensers, candles, and other table top items.

Provide if requested and replace with thoroughly cleaned and sanitized ones. Consider single-use options.

Avoid touching coffee cups when refilling.

If customers ask to take unfinished food with them, provide packaging and let the customer put the food into the container.

Use digital menus boards, large chalkboards, or online pre-ordering alternatives instead of traditional menus. If this is not possible, consider single-use disposable menus.

Try to limit the use of cash and limit the handling of credit cards and loyalty cards whenever possible, by allowing customers to scan or tap their cards and handle the card readers themselves. Encourage tap payment over pin pad use.

Staff a person to direct or install floor decals to facilitate the flow of people during busy times.

Consider turning bars into service or pass through counters. In this scenario, the kitchen teams could deliver dishes to the bar area and the servers pick up from there. This reduces touches and reduces traffic into the kitchen.

There are 15 comments

  1. Having hand sanitizer at each table would make me comfortable as a customer, that way hands can be cleaned after eating and touching all of the various utensils without needing to add traffic to the busy washrooms.

  2. @Diana, hand sanitizer won’t work after you’ve had wings, a burger or fries. You’d be rubbing all the debris all over. They need to install automatic doors to washrooms so people wash their hands!

  3. Ask bar staff and servers not to pick up a glass (full or empty) by the rim.

  4. I live in South Carolina and we never really had much of a lockdown. We had about 2 weeks where we saw 60% to 70% reduction in traffic. That eased up to return to normal over the course of about 3 weeks. People are not wearing masks here. We still shake hands. We stand in line and ignore the marked tape lines on the floor to keep 6′ apart.

    We’re not doing it to be rebels or because we are oblivious to reality. We do it because we all know that in an enclosed space, all of these precautions are nearly useless. Consult any medical data made before the pandemic and you will see that any virus with the virulence of this strength can not be protected from by these half measures.

    People who can’t accept that they now live in a world where every day brings the possibility of a horrific death will go mad. Sometimes we have to accept that we can not have both safety and prosperity. I can clearly see that southerners are willing to risk their lives in order to continue living their lives.

  5. Lets’s start to challenge our politicians and point out that they made a mistake. CV is not the “boogey man” they originally thought and just get back to business as normal. Where are the “millions” dead from CV? 300,000 dead worldwide compared to 650,000 from a bad flu season. This doesn’t justify such drastic measures….
    Politicians will never admit a mistake however. And don’t think “social distancing” prevented this from becoming an epidemic – ask any virologist.

  6. Why not have customers pick up their own orders say at the bar. Every order has a nunber and that number is called when ready. Customer picks it up at a designated place. Servers only needed to take the order a d give number.

  7. Wrapping clean utensils and napkins in plastic wraps would also decrease touch contact of these instruments.

  8. Lol 2 months of a global lockdown, unprecedented collective action risking economic collapse, mass mobilization not seen on a scale since World War 2 and Gary is asking why there isn’t more than 300,000 dead human beings

  9. Andrew and Sean, Gary is right! The numbers that are shown are no where near the numbers that occurred during H1N1, Sars or the common yearly flu. Not to say that this is not serious, but we have never had economic shut down with viruses worse than this one. It’s media driven panic with an other agenda behind it. That I am sure of but what that agenda is I cannot say as I don’t know.

  10. The lockdown worked — THAT is why the crisis wasn’t more horrific. THAT is why there was less of a spread to the south and mid-west. Lets hope that people “open up” wisely and not undo the time we bought by flattening the curve.

  11. Esquire1470, it is not valid to compare a YEARLY death rate from the flu to the COVID-19 death rate over about 4 months and still rising.

    Also, COVID-19 appears to be about twice as contagious as the flu–and there is no vaccine. The seasonal flu kills 30,000 to 60,000 Americans every year. COVID-19 has already killed at least over 89,000 and growing.

    Had Americans not taken measures to “flatten the curve” the health care system may have been overwhelmed and led to more deaths.

    I find it strange that the success of shut-down and distancing measures is now being portrayed as unnecessary.

  12. I recall before the lockdowns, experts saying that if they worked we would feel afterword like the measures were too drastic. Enter Gary.

  13. To go through the mentioned above just to have a meal and a beer in a restaurant…unbelievable.

  14. Well, now that it is mid-August, the virus is active in Vancouver and we have 769,000 worldwide deaths and 21.3 million worldwide cases. Those numbers could have been so much better had people taken it seriously and considered the impact their choices might have on other people they come into contact with each day.

    These numbers don’t tell us anything about the people who have survived but have been adversely impacted for 2-3 months or more. A fairly young friend of mine had the virus early in the pandemic, her mother also got infected and died, and my friend has cardiac issues she can’t seem to get past.

    But sure, it’s just the flu.

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