While hand sanitizer is better than not washing altogether, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer should only be used if soap and water are not available. Schindler says that hand sanitizer can take up to 5 minutes to actually begin breaking down contaminates. This wait time can be a hindrance in the fast-paced restaurant environment, and many employees may be unaware of the time needed for the sanitizer to do its job, leading to improper use.
In addition to allowing the designated time for hand washing, paying special attention to cleaning surfaces, and ensuring that sick team members stay home from work, Schindler says that effective monitoring tools are key in fighting coronavirus. These could be technology-based tools—like PathSpot’s scanner, which is placed on the wall beside handwashing stations and detects invisible contaminants—or additional human management.
“Restaurants need to check both the effectiveness of hand washes and also the number of hand washes,” she says. “In addition to training, ensuring that there are effective monitoring tools for all hygiene practices is going to be really important during this period.”
The National Restaurant Association (NRA) has also released a fact sheet for restaurants that includes information on how the virus spreads, symptoms, monitoring for the virus, and prevention measures. An FAQ webpage with additional safety information is available on the NRA’s site, too.
Supply chain will also be affected
Of course, more stringent food and employee safety is not the only step in protecting your brand from the coronavirus spread. Every area of operations will feel the effects of the virus, and operators should consider all of these areas, including supply chain.
COVID-19 began in China, a major supplier for the U.S. As China deals with the devastating impact of the virus on its labor and industry, shortages could arise domestically.
“We have our finger on the pulse of supply chain, and the main thing I would anticipate seeing is an impact on the disposables category,” Consolidated Concepts’ Rosenbloom says. “A lot of these products come from China, and China is having severe slowdowns.”
He says brands could see shortages in custom or logoed paper goods specifically. Many of these items—such as a logo-bearing napkin or specially sized cup—are made to spec overseas. American distributors often keep only limited stocks of these custom items on hand, and Rosenbloom recommends that brands begin looking for replacement paper goods that are produced domestically.