Reopening Your Shop or Restaurant as the COVID-19 Pandemic Evolves
The COVID-19 pandemic has likely altered how you conduct business. As you prepare to restore regular operations or reopen, it is important to have a business and safety plan that you can adapt to help you succeed in the “new normal.” As you are developing overall COVID-19 response efforts, work to help reduce risk through PATH – Plan, Act, Train, Health. These core principles can help you to ensure your business is operating safely in today’s changing environment.
Employee & Customer Safety
Keeping your employees and customers safe is a top priority as you reopen your business. Make sure you review and understand any local requirements related to reopening your business, including occupancy restrictions or other social distancing requirements.
Review your operations with a focus on implementing enhancements to the procedures as needed to address evolving COVID-19 challenges. Inform your customers of your efforts to help reduce concerns. Conduct a facility wide inspection to determine any changes that need to be made.
Retail businesses may also want to consider limiting the number of customers admitted on premises at any one time or changing how they serve customers and how customers can sample products, such as cosmetics, food and other goods.
If offering curbside pickups ]for your customers, dynamic risk assessments should be used to minimise the risk of slips, trips and falls. Inspect the curbside areas for potential hazards and make necessary repairs or place signs or cones as needed. Encourage employees to wear high visability clothing or reflective apparel. Make sure the pickup area is well lit and has designated parking areas that minimise pedestrian vehicle interface.
Additional health and safety measures, such as providing personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves and face coverings, and adhering to social distancing requirements, may be required by local government policy. Hand hygiene should be encouraged through frequent hand washing for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
Consider a process for wellness checks as employees return to work, which may include temperature checks before entering the workplace. You may also need to develop or update your employee handbook to include sick employee protocols. Reopening might include hiring new employees, some of whom may require training to avoid on-the-job injury. Similarly, consider retraining existing employees to help them reacclimate to safe working practices.
On-site Vendor Safety
Vendors play a critical role in supporting your business, but they can also be a potential source of COVID-19. Develop formal procedures regarding when and how incoming deliveries are received. Consider establishing an area that vendors may enter and maintain social distancing of at least 2 metres.
Incoming goods may be a potential source of exposure. Establish procedures for sanitising the packaging following best practices as stipulated in HSE Ireland guidance on handwashing. Wash hands for at least 20 seconds after handling these packages.
Consider limiting contractors and vendors who have access to your facility. It will be important to establish Equality Act compliant procedures, especially for individuals displaying signs of illness or with symptoms common to COVID-19 infection.
Also consider whether your procedures should require PPE for contractors or vendors while on-site.
Set up disinfection procedures for the vehicles. Disinfect after each shift or when switching drivers. Equip each vehicle with a supply of disinfecting solutions for cleaning high-touch areas, as well as hand sanitiser, face coverings and gloves for drivers. Make sure cleaning and disinfection materials are compatible with the surfaces being treated.
For business deliveries, communicate with your customers early, before the actual delivery. Ask about changes to physical controls at locations where you make deliveries or if there have been changes to unloading and delivery procedures. When making home or business deliveries, limit in-person contact. Arrange for a drop-off location to minimise exposure to others.
Supply Chain Considerations
It is quite possible that some of your vendors will be running at limited capacity or be unavailable. Consider the following to help ensure you have the products needed to run your business:
- Reconnect with your vendors to confirm that they are back up and running. Also confirm that they can supply adequate products in a timely fashion to meet customer demands.
- Consider sourcing new vendors, if necessary. Be sure any new vendors meet your vendor supply criteria (e.g., quality standards).
- Engage your legal counsel to review contracts established with new vendors to ensure that you are effectively leveraging risk transfer strategies.
Prepare Your Facility for Reopening
As you prepare to reopen your business, it’s important to prepare your facility as you ramp back up.
- If your retail business was closed and unoccupied for seven-days or more due to COVID-19, the European CDC recommends completing normal routine cleaning and disinfecting procedures. If operations have continued under a limited basis, it is recommended to complete additional cleaning and disinfecting procedures.
Fleet and Driver Safety
With a possible increase in delivery demand, additional drivers may be needed. Make sure all your drivers hold a valid license for the required vehicle type and Certificate of Professional Competence hours are up to date. Reinforce that existing driver controls apply; this includes complying with the Road Traffic Act and company rules on mobile phone use, driver behaviour, and drug and alcohol use.
Carefully review your staffing levels as your operational pace increases. While it may be tempting to try to do more with fewer drivers, over time, fatigued drivers can lead to an increase in motor vehicle crashes and workplace injuries.