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COVID-19: The Hospitality Sector at Level 3

New Zealand will move down to Alert Level 3 from start of business on Tuesday 28th April 2020. The change in the alert level will mark a shift from ‘essential’ business operations to ‘safe’ business operations, with many strict restrictions still in place. For hospitality at level 3, this means contactless takeaways only, provided specific heightened health and safety standards can be strictly adhered to.

We have had a number of discussions with our building and construction sector clients in recent days and know this will be very welcome news. To ensure that the last month (soon to be five weeks) of lock-down have not been a very expensive waste, it is essential to follow the new industry guidelines.

Is it Even Viable for you to Open?

The first thing you need to carefully consider is can you actually afford to open at Alert Level 3. For many businesses, the restrictions at level 3 make it more expensive to open than to stay closed, do you know if your business is one of those?

Do not rush and think that just because you can fire up the kitchen again that you’ll be better off. You need to have a plan and a high-level cashflow forecast for every scenario. Some key questions to ask yourself before even considering opening:

  • Do I have the ability to do takeaway?
  • How will customers order?
  • How will customers pay?
  • How will the orders get to the kitchen?
  • What is the likely demand?
  • How  many staff will I need?
  • How do we manage the staff we don’t need?
  • Is our kitchen big enough to allow safe operation and social distancing?

These are just a few of the essential questions you’ll need to ask yourself. If you need a hand running through these, book in a free 30 minute chat with one of our business advisors.

We also have a range of free and fully funded services to help you make informed cashflow decisions. You can access our free Business Continuity Plan (BCP) Guide here and download a copy of the free BCP template from there. That will help you with many of the decisions you need to make.

Preparing your Business to Open

In the lead up to the move from Alert Level 4 to Alert Level 3, you can start getting your business, premises and staff ready for work.

Talking with your staff is really important and should be one of the first things you do. Engaging with them is essential to making sure they are happy, healthy and safe to work. They will also need to be up-skilled on the new health and safety protocols and requirements that you will have in place.

Look at your menu. What items can be done with contactless delivery or pick-up? What things will be impractical to serve?

You should have completed a stock-take before shutdown and know what your need to reorder to get back up and running. If you haven’t, head in and get the stock take sorted so you know where you’re starting from with your stock. A lean stock flow will be essential. There is no knowing if we will go back into lock-down and customer demand is unpredictable so don’t carry more than just a couple of days of stock at a time.

It is likely you’ll also need to order in some extra take out containers and other items to facilitate a changed operating environment if takeaway is new for you. If takeaway is new, its even more important to have made a well informed decision on the viability of opening.

A key task to be undertaken in the lead up to opening will be a floor to ceiling clean of you premises. After more than a month of being closed, its likely the place will need more than just a vacuum and a wipe over. Set aside a day to get in there and give it a deep clean and sanitisation. Health and Safety has never been more important. The last thing any business needs is to become a center of a new cluster and the reason the entire country gets kicked back to level 4 and locked-down.

Health & Safety Guidelines for Hospitality at Level 3

Hospitality at Level 3 is not business as normal. However, you should already have most of what you need in place from before lock-down.

We’ve received many questions about the need for gloves to be work when working. If you did not previously wear gloves when working then there is no requirement for them to be worn now at level 3. While it might seem a smart move to use gloves, they can actually become a recipe for unsafe and unhygienic practices, especially if your staff are not used to working with them. Regular hand washing with soap and water is often your best option. Avoid relying on sanitizer as this is less effective than simply washing your hands properly (it’s also more expensive).

Similarly, people have been asking us about masks. These are probably a better protective option than gloves. It must be noted that they are most effective at preventing, or at least limiting, the chances of your staff contaminating the food you’re preparing rather than protecting staff from contamination from customers. Contactless processes and social distancing between your staff and customers is essential. Masks will be easy for front of house staff to utilise as long as they discard and change them regularly, especially after breaks. It may be harder to utilise them with staff in the hot confines of kitchens. Make them available for your staff and encourage their use.

The best thing you can do is to ensure that any staff returning to work have had no chance of contracting the virus and have had no symptoms at all over the previous week or more.

Every business in hospitality at Level 3 (or level 2 when we get there) should have a Covid-19 Control Plan and policies in place. The plan will guide how the business and its employees will manage work on their premises and the controls they will use to minimise the risk of Covid-19 transmission between each other and to customers.

WorkSafe has some great guides and template safety plans on their website. You can access them here.

Read the WorkSafe Guidance

Worksafe has some really good information for all businesses, including hospitality at level 3. It is well worth taking the time to run through this before you make any plans to open.

The governments dedicated COVID-19 website also has a wealth of information about what level 3 will look like overall. Click here to have a read through of all the info on covid19.govt.nz.

Remember, just because the cafe or restaurant down he street is opening, doesn’t mean you have to. Don’t make a knee-jerk reaction to open. Make a calm and well informed decision that is in the best interests of your business, your team and your customers. As a nation, we’ve all been really supportive of the lock-down and the extraordinary measures taken to preserve our health. Your customers will still be there in two weeks and you’ll be there, healthier than ever, to serve them.

Need some help getting your head around the new protocols and whether its worthwhile opening? Book in a chat here. We’re here to help.

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