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Opening up in hospitality – taking a risk-based approach

Tue 27th Apr 21

For the owners, managers and employees of hospitality businesses – whether hotels, bed and breakfasts or other accommodation, restaurants, cafes and bars – reopening after a period of pandemic lockdown will be met with both excitement and trepidation. Health and safety is always a high priority and, with safe social distancing and hygiene now at the top of everyone’s minds, how do you go about bringing customers back with confidence and peace of mind?

Whatever the restrictions in place – and they vary between the regions of the UK and beyond – taking a risk-based approach to health and safety pays dividends.

Risk assessment

Risk assessments are always the foundation of planning and implementing safe operating practices in business, and the risks associated with Covid-19 are no exception. You will have already carried out risk assessments ahead of reopening and, in fact, ahead of opening last year, too. These will have been built and should be reviewed and updated on an ongoing basis – not just when there are changes in legislation or guidance, but also as everyday occurrences start to unfold.

Keeping a written record of your risk assessments, and your notes and updates, is good working practice and ensures everyone in your business knows what’s new.

Clear signposting

Within your premises, and on your website, delivering clear instruction and signposting is essential. This not only serves to inform your customers and staff, but also to continuously remind them of the safety protocol in operation within your establishment.

As well as standalone signs showing one way systems, safe distancing and reminding people of sanitiser and masks, for example, these can also be integrated with your marketing messaging, especially if you have digital signage boards that can be updated regularly and that can scroll content depending on your audience and the most up to date requirements.

Remember to ensure your signposting does not cause a point where people may congregate to read it or, indeed, that it’s a trip hazard.

Safe social distancing

We’re all getting used to queuing at safe social distances. In public areas of hospitality settings, such as in bars and restaurants, these may be less well observed in the evenings and crowding may naturally start to occur. Making sure there is a clear booking system and a safe capacity is maintained is essential, as is ensuring that people are seated as much as possible while inside.

Providing hygienic access to hand sanitiser, keeping areas of high footfall well signposted, regularly deep cleaning of high use areas such as toilets, and ensuring masks are worn are all important.

If people are queueing outside your premises, waiting to enter, check that this does not cause a hazard, either to those waiting to come in or to the general public.

Hygiene in guest accommodation

Within your guest rooms, hygiene is always important and making sure that your guests feel confident as they walk into their room is a great way of setting their mind at ease. A door seal showing that their room has been cleaned and left to air is a good start for them.

When it comes to cleaning, as well as your usual deep clean between guests, understanding everything your guests may touch will help you to create a new process. It’s a good idea to put yourself into your guests’ shoes, considering every possible item and putting together a cleaning plan as you go. From the obvious touch points like door handles and light switches to chairs and tabletops, remote controls and switches on appliances, too. Some areas to pay attention to include:

  • Doors and door handles
  • Window handles and sills, blinds and curtain pulleys
  • Light switches and pulls
  • Tables and chairs
  • TV remote controls and buttons on the set
  • Mini bar fridges, kettle and coffee machine, safe, iron, bins
  • Toilet handles and toilet brushes, taps, showers

Every hospitality business is different, and your risk assessments, processes and protocols will be unique. Staying informed of any changes in guidance and legislation is essential to safe opening. With so many more risks to consider, it’s important to remember to maintain all other health and safety aspects as well, mitigating the chances of liability claims.

To find out more about insurance for your hospitality business, contact Ryan's Hospitality Division today on 01473 343330.