Ahead of reopening, Govt. issues SOPs for restaurants to contain spread of COVID-19
IANS (File photo)

Ahead of reopening, Govt. issues SOPs for restaurants to contain spread of COVID-19

New Delhi, June 4, 2020

As restaurants in non-containment zones across the country prepare to reopen on June 8, after being shut for ten weeks during the nationwide lockdown imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19, the Government today issued standard operating procedures (SOPs) for them, including limiting seating to half their capacity to ensure social distancing.

"Given the current COVID-19 outbreak in India, it is important that restaurants and other hospitality units take suitable measures to restrict any further transmission of the virus while providing restaurant services," the document issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) said.

As announced earlier, only restaurants outside containment zones will be allowed to reopen, while those inside such zones will continue to remain closed as long as the restrictions are in place.

Persons above 65 years of age, persons with comorbidities, pregnant women and children below the age of 10 years are advised to stay at home, except for essential and health purposes. Restaurant management have to advise customers accordingly.

The restaurants have to follow physical distancing of at least six feet as far as feasible. Use of face covers/masks is mandatory. People have to practise frequent hand washing with soap (for at least 40-60 seconds) even when hands are not visibly dirty. Use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers (for at least 20 seconds) can be made wherever feasible.

Respiratory etiquettes have to be strictly followed. This involves strict practice of covering one’s mouth and nose while coughing/sneezing with a tissue/handkerchief/flexed elbow and disposing of used tissues properly.

Spitting shall be strictly prohibited. Installation and use of Aarogya Setu App shall be advised to all.

Restaurants have been told to encourage takeaways, instad of dine-in. Food delivery personnel should leave the packet at the customer’s door and not hand over the packet directly to the customer.

The staff for home deliveries shall be screened thermally by the restaurant authorities prior to allowing home deliveries.

The entrance of the restaurant must have mandatory hand hygiene (sanitizer dispenser) and thermal screening provisions.

Only asymptomatic staff and patrons shall be allowed in the restaurants. All staff and patrons will be allowed entry only if using face cover/masks. The face cover/masks have to be worn at all times inside the restaurant.

Staggering of patrons should be done, if possible. Adequate manpower shall be deployed by restaurant management for ensuring social distancing norms.

All employees who are at higher risk i.e. older employees, pregnant employees and employees who have underlying medical conditions, must take extra precautions. They should preferably not be exposed to any front-line work requiring direct contact with the public. Restaurant management to facilitate work from home wherever feasible.

Proper crowd management will have to be ensured in the parking lots and outside the premises – duly following social distancing norms.

Additional patrons to be seated in a designated waiting area with norms of social distancing.

Valet parking, if available, shall be operational with operating staff wearing face covers/ masks and gloves as appropriate. A proper disinfection of steering, door handles, keys, etc. of the vehicles should be taken up.

Specific markings may be made with sufficient distance to manage the queue and ensure social distancing in the premises.

There should, preferably, be separate entry and exits for patrons, staff and goods/supplies.

Required precautions while handling supplies, inventories and goods in the restaurant shall be ensured. Proper queue management and disinfection shall be organized.

Patrons should maintain physical distancing of a minimum of 6 feet, when queuing up for entry and inside the restaurant as far as feasible.

The SOPs said seating arrangement have to be made in such a way that adequate social distancing is maintained. In restaurants, not more than 50% of seating capacity will be permitted.

Restaurants should have disposable menus and use good quality disposable paper napkins instead of cloth napkins.

Buffet service should also follow social distancing norms among patrons.

The number of people in the elevators shall be restricted, duly maintaining social distancing norms. Use of escalators with one person on alternate steps must be encouraged.

For air-conditioning/ventilation, the guidelines of CPWD shall be followed which inter alia emphasises that the temperature setting of all air conditioning devices should be in the range of 24-30oC, relative humidity should be in the range of 40-70%, intake of fresh air should be as much as possible and cross ventilation should be adequate.

Large gatherings/congregations continue to remain prohibited. Effective and frequent sanitation within the premises shall be maintained with particular focus on lavatories, drinking and hand washing stations/areas.

Cleaning and regular disinfection (using 1% sodium hypochlorite) of frequently touched surfaces (door knobs, elevator buttons, hand rails, benches, washroom fixtures, etc.) is mandatory in all guest service area and common areas.

Proper disposal of face covers / masks / gloves left over by patrons and/or staff has to be ensured.

Deep cleaning of all washrooms shall be ensured at regular intervals. Adequate crowd and queue management should be ensured to ensure social distancing norms.

Staff / waiters should wear mask and hand gloves and take other required precautionary measures.

The SOPs said contactless mode of ordering and digital mode of payment (using e-wallets) should be encouraged. Tables have to be sanitized each time a customer leaves.

In the kitchen, the staff should follow social distancing norms at work place. Kitchens area must be sanitized at regular intervals.

Gaming arcades/ children play areas (wherever applicable) shall remain closed.

In case of a suspect or confirmed case in the premises, the following steps must be taken:

a. Place the ill person in a room or area where they are isolated from others.

b. Provide a mask/face cover till such time he/she is examined by a doctor.

c. Immediately inform the nearest medical facility (hospital/clinic) or call the state or district helpline.

d. A risk assessment will be undertaken by the designated public health authority (district RRT/treating physician) and accordingly further action be initiated regarding management of case, his/her contacts and need for disinfection.

Disinfection of the premises has to be taken up if the person is found positive.


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