Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 22, 2020 (SKNIS): The restaurant industry has been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic, says Chief Medical Officer Dr. Hazel Laws during her presentation at the May 20 National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) COVID-19 Daily Briefing. As such, the restaurant industry will have to adopt new ways of functioning as it reopens.
“Restaurants have been hard hit by COVID-19. Many of them had to be closed down and even as we relax the measures, the restaurants face an uncertain future amid this pandemic. We are told that this pandemic will be with us for another year and a half or so,” she said.
Dr. Laws stated that as restaurants reopen there will be a new norm for them.
“Restaurants will have to adopt to the social and physical distancing protocols like any other entity,” she said. “The tables will have to be spaced out in keeping with the six feet distancing guidelines that we have. This is going to automatically reduce the number or capacity of individuals who will be dining in,” said the Chief Medical Officer.
She noted that the present seating capacity within any restaurant is predetermined by the restaurant’s business plan to maximize the limited revenues given that specific industry. “So, restaurant owners will have to determine how they will survive with this reduced capacity,” she said.
Dr. Laws stated that physical distancing also has implications not only in the dining area, but it also has implications in the kitchen of the restaurant.
“Let’s say you had a kitchen staff of 10 or 12, the restaurant may be told that they have to reduce the number of persons in the kitchen. This can have significant impact on the menu offered,” she said. “It will also impact the behaviour and choices of the regular customer or clients of the restaurants.”
Restaurants around the world are looking at the way forward, said Dr. Laws, stating that even the way silverware is handled has to change. She added that tables have to be sanitized before and between customers.
Dr. Laws highlighted other ways restaurants will have to adopt to the changing world.
“Sanitizers have to be everywhere and available to the customers and staff. There needs to be appropriate signage in the restaurant. Going forward, there will have to be reduced contact or interaction between staff and customers,” she said.
There may also be contactless payment in the future, said Dr. Laws. She added that some restaurants may also have to expand their take-out and delivery services.
“COVID-19 has caused unprecedented changes in the federation, in the region and globally,” said Chief Medical Officer Laws. “COVID-19 has significantly impacted restaurants and it will be hard to predict the new norm.”