Canadian Underwriter

Northbridge’s advice to restaurants upon re-opening

July 23, 2020   by Greg Meckbach

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As restaurants in much of Ontario re-open July 24, a major commercial insurer is warning companies to train their staff carefully.

“Servers should bring items such as glasses, cutlery, and single-serve condiments to the table only after the party is seated and avoid touching water glasses or coffee cups during refills,” Northbridge Insurance wrote on a recent blog post.

“If staff can’t maintain a distance of two metres from other staff or customers, encourage the use of non-medical masks or face coverings,” the Toronto-based commercial insurer advises in Infection control strategies for restaurants. “Staff should thoroughly clean and disinfect tables and chairs between seatings.”

Shortly after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic this past March, jurisdictions in Canada and worldwide imposed various closures and precautions. Ontario ordered all bars and restaurants to cease dining room service, initially put a stop to serving open bottles of liquor, and restricted restaurants to takeout and delivery service only.

With the gradual re-opening in Ontario, Premier Doug Ford announced this week that the regions of Durham, Halton, Hamilton, Niagara, Haldimand-Norfolk, Sarnia-Lambton and York will progress to Stage 3 July 24, The Canadian Press reported.

For restaurants, Stage 3 means they can resume indoor service as long as tables are spaced two-metres apart to encourage physical distancing. Toronto, Peel and Windsor-Essex cannot progress yet to Stage 3.

Restaurants and food service operators who re-open should do “everything reasonably possible” to protect the health and safety of their workers and customers by providing information, training, sanitation and personal protective equipment, using guidance from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), Northbridge advises.

“CCOHS recommends discontinuing salad bars and buffets where diners use the same utensils. Self-serve stations should be modified to limit contact with other diners; utensils, straws, and stir sticks should be individually wrapped.”

Your restauranteur clients should also remove ketchup bottles, salt and pepper shakers, sugar bowls and other condiments from tables and self-serve stations, Northbridge warns. Those could be replaced with single-serving packets.

Last weekend, Toronto Mayor John Tory asked Premier Ford to make masks mandatory inside restaurants and bars in Toronto when it eventually moves to Stage 3, CP reported.

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