Published 15 March 2020
With the COVID-19 outbreak being declared a worldwide pandemic at the beginning of March, vast changes are occurring throughout the food industry.
Food businesses managers and owners are having to make adjustments to the way they conduct their business, from training staff on serious hygiene precautions they need to enact daily, to updating policies and protocols to prevent the spread of the disease within the premises. These adjustments alone are enough to make any food business feel unstable. But what happens when a state of emergency is enacted in your locality or country?
Such is the case for countries like the United States and Canada, who have both declared a state of emergency in many provinces and states, in an attempt to stop the rapid spread of COVID-19. Currently in Canada, a state of emergency has been declared in most provinces, including Ontario which has the largest population. In the United States almost all of the states have declared a state of emergency. These countries have enacted these state of emergencies in order to stop the spread of COVID-19 before a dramatic jump in cases can occur. More provinces and states could be added to the list at any moment, and other countries such as the UK and Australia could be following suit very soon.
A state of emergency is declared when a government needs to take exceptional measures that are immediate but temporary in order to ensure public safety and security in the midst of a major crisis. These crises can include natural disasters, war, large-scale accidents and disease outbreaks — like COVID-19.
The currently active state of emergencies declare that food businesses that allow customers to dine-in, must make changes to their operations. Food businesses that provide take-out options are permitted to continue that part of their service until further notice. By restricting the operations of restaurants and bars, the objective is to reduce options for large groups of people to congregate and thus, reduce the spread of COVID-19.
If you have not be required to close down your business operations completely, you have the opportunity to prepare a response for a possible shutdown in the future. While you continue to operate, it is imperative that you take measures to continue business operations effectively, while stopping the spread of COVID-19 within your premises. Take the opportunity to ensure that all of your staff are trained in the COVIDSafe Professional for Food Service program. This is leading-edge training for the food industry that not only reinforces industry standards but instructs and informs on critical changes that must be made to food businesses immediately to curb the spread of COVID-19. These actions are fundamental to stabilizing your business operations throughout the pandemic and ensuring business continuity.
You should also proceed to inform your customers, as well as your staff, about the steps you are taking in response to the pandemic. Communication with your staff and clientele is essential to continuing to operate successfully. There is much concern and fear circulating among the population: take care of your staff and your customers so they will keep coming back as long as you are open.