Customer logs and single-use menus: What to expect when Toronto restaurants and bars open

Jun 8 2020, 12:57 pm

Stage 2 is (almost) on the horizon for Toronto, which means restaurants, bars, and patio openings are too.

But with new requirements such as customer information logs and live music prohibitions, these spaces will be different from how we remember them.

The province announced Monday that starting Friday, June 12, select regions will move into the next stage of reopening from the COVID-19 pandemic.

While Toronto isn’t one of these early openers — due to regional openings, the city has to wait for a later date to reach Stage 2 — city officials are encouraging eateries to prepare for the provincial announcement that such establishments can resume operations.

Once the province gives the go-ahead, restaurants will be allowed to open for dining in outdoor areas only, such as patios, curbside, parking lots and adjacent premises.

To help these places prepare, Toronto Public Health has released guidelines that restaurant and bar owners should reference as they plan next moves.

The document runs through a pre-opening checklist, and also highlights measures that should be implemented while spots are operating.

Here’s (a non-extensive look at) what the city is asking restaurants to do:

Before opening

  • Wash, rinse and sanitize all food contact surfaces.
  • Ensure hand washing stations are adequate and functional.
  • Clean and disinfect all non-food contact surfaces, including high touch areas such as door handles and equipment knobs.
  • Check thoroughly for signs of pest activity. Consider contracting a licenced pest management company prior to opening to ensure there is no infestation.
  • Ensure adequate amounts of sanitizers and detergents are available for manual dishwashing.
  • Clean and disinfect washrooms, and ensure adequate supplies are available.
  • Consider training staff on new procedures/requirements.

Prepare the physical space

  • Rearrange and/or remove seating and tables, or mark as unavailable, to meet BOTH of these conditions:
    • Minimum of two metres/six feet between each edge of every table, AND
    • No more than 50% of the rated capacity available for use.
  • Consider reservations only.
  • Remove waiting area seating, and create a process to ensure that customers stay separate and maintain physical distancing while waiting to be seated.
  • Demarcate floor with markers for any areas where a line up may occur.
  • Keep chairs well away from high traffic areas if possible.
  • Rearrange equipment and/or processes in the kitchen and other areas used by staff so that a two metre/six foot distance is achievable at all times. If not feasible, staff must wear masks.
  • If necessary, rearrange pick-up by servers to maintain distance (eg: use the bar as a serving area).
  • If necessary, install barriers (eg: Plexiglas) to protect staff (eg: host desk) or customers (eg: between back-to-back booths).
  • Remove buffets and self-serve locations.
  • Reconfigure break rooms/areas and eating areas for staff to physically distance.
  • Provide direction to customers:
    • Install directional arrows (e.g. at entrance/exit) if possible.
    • Erect signage for physical distancing, passive screening, and any policies affecting them.
  • The use of non-medical masks or face coverings in all indoor public spaces is strongly encouraged.
  • Operators may require their customers to wear masks, except when eating.

Develop protocols

  • Policies for customers: for example, reservations preferred/only; payment by card preferred/only.
  • Menus: single-use paper, online for customers’ mobile devices, menu-boards, chalkboards, or regular menus cleaned between uses.
  • Tables: should not be pre-set; utensils should be rolled or packaged.
  • Table items: replace regular condiments with single-serve versions, or sanitize between uses, consider disposable napkins, etc.
  • Staffing: for example, stagger shifts, stagger breaks and lunch breaks, update absence policies, and new protocols for back filling absences.
  • Active screenings and not allowing staff to work if showing symptoms of coronavirus are required policies. Staff must report any symptoms developed during shift to their supervisor.
  • Signage: post signs on handwashing, physical distancing, reporting symptoms, and make them visible to staff and customers.
  • Give attention to cleaning key touch points and objects (e.g. food contact surfaces, hand contact areas, door handles, switches, table tops, chairs, sneeze guards, restrooms, taps, utensils and dispensers) Also, shared equipment such as credit card machines and cash registers.
  • Consider installing devices such as automatic doors and lights, electronic taps etc.
  • Specify and obtain approved hard-surface cleaning materials.
  • Thoroughly clean the premises before opening.
  • Train staff on above protocols, and ensure they have access to gloves and masks as needed.

While operating

Main measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in food premises

  • Physical distancing (keep two metres/six feet distance) from both staff and customers.
  • Frequent cleaning and disinfection of all potentially contaminated surfaces.

Maintain logs for customer and staff contact information

  • Operators will be required to keep logs of the name and contact information for customers and staff, with a check-in time.
  • If there is a case of COVID-19 who was contagious while at the restaurant, public health will use that list to notify the staff and customers.
  • This information may be requested by TPH to assist with tracing contacts of someone who ate at a given restaurant and subsequently developed coronavirus. Operators may also be required to post a notice of data collection.

Additional protective measures to keep everyone safe

  • Stay home when sick.
  • Wash hands often. Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Cough or sneeze into elbow.
  • Wear a face mask or covering when in an enclosed, public setting.

What’s not allowed

  • Live music is prohibited. If you provide recorded music, turn down the volume. Loud music causes diners to lean towards each other and raise their voices or shout, thus increasing the risk of transmitting the virus.
  • Staff members who are sick may not come to work. If staff become sick at work, they should go home and stay home. They should also be advised to complete the COVID-19 self-assessment tool and/or contact their primary health provider and get tested.
  • The owner/operator, or another person appointed for that purpose, should be present and checking to ensure adherence to protocols.
  • Customers who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 should be refused entry. Posters should be displayed telling customers if they have symptoms they cannot enter.
  • All customers must be seated; service to standing customers (e.g. in bar areas) is prohibited.
  • No more than six customers should be seated at each table.

To align with the need for more space, licensed establishments will be allowed to create a patio adjacent to their premise, or increase the size of their patio, per the province.

For Toronto specifically, Mayor John Tory announced on Thursday the development of CafeTO, a new program designed to help the restaurant and bar industries restart after the pause as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The quick-start program will make it easier for restaurant and bar owners to open and expand patios, while city officials work to reallocate curb lanes of some streets for patio space. The program will expedite the process for sidewalk-cafe applications, too.

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