Pub Staff Given Re-Opening Advice To Stay Safe

Pub Staff Given Re-Opening Advice To Stay Safe

Hospitality staff have been waiting three months to get back to work after the government announced the closure of all bars, restaurants, pubs, hotels and cafes in late March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Now that pubs have been allowed to re-open since July 4th, many can breathe a sigh of relief that they can resume their jobs. However, they will have to implement new procedures into their working day to ensure they, as well as their patrons, stay as safe as possible and are not at risk at contracting the potentially fatal virus.

The government issued a document for businesses that intended to re-open on ‘Super Saturday’, giving guidance on social distancing for workers; cleaning the workplace; using personal protective equipment (PPE); wearing face coverings; and recording all customers for 21 days while ensuring to remain in line with data protection legislation.

According to the document, establishments should adopt an indoor or, where possible, outdoor table service, with one member of staff assigned to different tables. There should also be zones to separate kitchen staff from those working front of house to avoid them mixing too much.

Additionally, employees need to remain two metres apart, or one-metre-plus if this is not possible, while in work, as well as when arriving and leaving the pub and travelling to and from home. This may mean equipment in the building needs to be moved to provide enough space between staff members.

Employees have been told to avoid putting on loud music or hosting live performances, as this encourages shouting, which could increase the risk of spreading the virus among patrons.

Despite being advised to maintain high hygiene standards, managers are not obliged to employ PPE, unless they are responding to a suspected case of Covid-19.

The advice stipulates: “Unless you are in a situation where the risk of Covid-19 transmission is very high, your risk assessment should reflect the fact that the role of PPE in providing additional protection is extremely limited. However, if your risk assessment does show that PPE is required, then you must provide this PPE free of charge to workers who need it. Any PPE provided must fit properly.”

Similarly, employees are not required to wear face masks, though the government recognised they “may be marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure”. Though it is thought to do little to protect the wearer, it can reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others.

However, good hygiene is actively encouraged, with workers having to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as frequently as possible, as well as washing clothes and face masks every day. There also needs to be more regular cleaning of surface areas and washrooms, while customers need easy access to hand sanitisers around the venue.

Though some have found the guidelines helpful, others have found it inconsistent, misleading and vague.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told TimesRadio: “You have had some government messaging saying go out and have a drink, other messaging saying be responsible, be cautious – the messaging, I think, has been very poor over the last few weeks.”

Hospitality Union’s Jonathan Downey also found the document full of vague words, referencing phrasing such as ‘where possible’, ‘consider the use of’, ‘minimising’ and ‘encouraging compliance with’, which pass decision-making responsibility on to the managers.

Speaking with Big Hospitality, Mr Downey said: “It’s essentially up to [us] what [we] do.”

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