We are finally on track to see our industry reopen, and, boy, are we ready! Every event professional is anticipating a busy season ahead, and the full docket is sorely needed after 2020. We're ready for client meetings, tastings, and—best of all—event days!
But, before getting too excited, we need to talk about safety.
The only way we can successfully bring events back is if we adhere to CDC guidelines and take the proper measures to ensure our client's health and safety, as well as that of their guests. Fortunately, COVID-19 is not a foodborne illness. However, caterers must continue to practice social distancing and employ contactless service as much as possible to keep guests and staff safe.
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With these measures in place, we can still celebrate life's special occasions to their fullest.
Don't break those habits yet.
It's important to recognize that we are not out of the water yet. We must stay vigilant, so keep up with the habits you've built over the past year and a half. Have your clients encourage their guests to stay home if they're feeling ill, offer live streaming services, keep hand sanitizer on hand, and perform contact tracing to the best of your ability.
If a team member shows signs of being ill or has been around anyone who has, have them stay home until they're symptom-free. Also, it should go without saying, but keep wearing masks and gloves when interacting with clients and preparing food!
Practice safety protocols in the kitchen.
If you're just getting back to the kitchen, it's time to implement new measures to ensure your facility and your team remain sanitary and risk-free. Here are a few protocols to put in place:
- Replace air filters frequently, using the highest MERV rating available.
- Perform pre-meeting screenings with clients over the phone. If they've shown symptoms of COVID-19, ask them to reschedule the meeting until they are in the clear.
- Put up reminders about mandatory hand washing. Team members should thoroughly wash their hands for at least 20 seconds between activities.
- Clean and sanitize everything after use! That includes doorknobs, chairs, tables, cooking surfaces, light switches, faucets, and other shared equipment.
- Maintain social distancing in your facilities and onsite for events. Stay six feet away from colleagues and guests as much as possible.
- Change masks and gloves regularly when in contact with different people. For example, if you're moving between a client meeting and a team check-in, put on a fresh mask and a new pair of gloves.
Retrain your staff annually.
Your team represents your brand standards, so it's essential that each employee is up-to-code and abides by the regulations set in place. Each year, spend some time reviewing proper protocols for handwashing, glove use, mask use, and guest interaction. Then, train them to use AllSeated, which has a physical distancing tool to create floorplans with confidence.
I also recommend having your whole staff complete the ServSafe COVID-19 Precaution training video to ensure they understand how to identify symptoms and limit the risks associated with live events. Then, before you move on, go ahead and put this in your calendar as an annual event. Otherwise, it will end up on the back burner, and that's never where your guests' health and safety should land!
As live events come back in all their glory, let's get ready for a thrilling season! But, don't lose sight of what is most important: staying safe. Proper health and safety measures will allow you to reopen with more freedom, so hang onto those masks and introduce new protocols to ensure your team, clients, and guests stay healthy.
Lead photo courtesy Amy Haberland Photography