Restaurants after COVID-19
By Tania Arora, Staff Writer
We have all been waiting for the day when we can resume our normal lives. But at this point, even though officials are planning to gradually reopen the economy, the question arises: is it safe yet? Assuming it is safe, the question becomes which businesses should open first? Throwing 50 to 400+ people under the same roof and expecting them to be safe seems a little impractical here.
Comparing restaurants to parks, we see the advantage of open spaces over confined places, and that’s even with the tightest of precautions. Small restaurants could change their seating arrangements and create a greater distance between the guests. But restaurants with expensive and immobile interiors will have to find ways to accommodate their guests without disappointing them, if they manage to reopen that is.
The greatest risk to this situation is sanitizing the area after every guest exits the premises; this could entail a full-time staff member being responsible for sanitizing and rearranging the dining area. The scope of that activity would depend on the businesses size. Busy food chains like McDonald’s or Tim Hortons with self-service and huge hourly turnovers will face challenges creating strategies and ensuring proper implementation while small businesses could be impacted by operational cost.
Still, no matter how promising or responsible an employee is, supervision is necessary. The entire setup would involve an increase in workforce. Half to ensure sanitization, the other half to verify it. But will that be enough? The food industry is one of the riskiest so caution will be imperative not just on the floor, but behind the scenes as well.
Regardless, if someone does get sick, who will be liable? Will the
guests be blamed for coming to the restaurant? If the restaurant is blamed, who
will be held accountable: the company or the employees? If the employees are
blamed, how will the authorities figure out the person behind the infection? Food
goes through multiple hands before being served. Each case would involve
tracing whether it was front staff, someone in the kitchen, the manufacturer, or
the wholesaler. Is anyone prepared for these investigations and do we have a
plan for containment? Who will be sent in quarantine? We all are aware that the
symptoms of the virus appear after a week or two so if even a single person
contracts it, the whole business is likely to unravel. Is the government ready
to risk it all over again?