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10 Steps Restaurant Owners Should Take Now

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  • Ensure adequate air circulation and post tips on how to stop the spread of germs.
  • Promote hand and respiratory hygiene.
  • Ensure wide availability of alcohol-based hand sanitizers (not just in places required by law).
  • Provide sanitizing supplies for frequent cleaning of surfaces and equipment.
  • Remind employees to report any illness to their manager especially if they are sick with fever, coughing and/or shortness of breath.

2. BE INFORMED about government & industry pandemic preparedness activities & planning

  • Use the information provided to you by industry resources such as the National Restaurant Association website.
  • Be familiar with your state and local pandemic plans and maintain contact with the local health department.
  • Monitor news and developments coming out of the state and federal governments on pandemic preparedness — key websites are:
    • Centers for Disease Control Coronavirus Disease 2019 – What’s New
    • World Health Organization Rolling Updates


  • Educate your workforce about the threat of the pandemic, what you are doing to prepare the business, and what they should do to protect themselves and their families. Information is available at
  • Evaluate your sick leave and family leave policies and communicate what you will expect during a pandemic.
  • After determining who are “essential employees” (Step 5), decide what changes or new policies are needed; communicate them clearly.
  • Update your employee contact system (whether it’s through a social media channel, app, phone tree, texts, website or other systems) and be sure to have a plan in place to reach employees quickly.
  • Notify your employees of the CDC’s travel guidance. Ask them to notify you if they have been to, or plan to travel to, an area identified as representing a particular concern.

4. Develop (or engage your current) pandemic PLANNING TASK FORCE and review this checklist

5. Identify your company’s ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS & THE NECESSARY EMPLOYEES to perform them.

  • Note that there will likely be shifts in demand for your products during a pandemic.
  • Take care to establish what functions are truly essential in order to build a meaningful list of employees who are truly critical to business continuity.

6. Determine what outside activities are vital to your business & EVALUATE WHAT YOUR BUSINESS CAN DO to maintain normal business

If there are interruptions in the supply chain or transportation system, how will that affect your business? Consider:

  • What reserve supplies might be necessary to stockpile (e.g., cleaning supplies, gloves or other protective equipment, “to-go” containers, etc.)
  • Possible interruptions of essential government services, such as water or power, which might force restaurant closure.
  • Lines of communication to your key vendors and suppliers to plan collaboratively for the long term and explore contingencies to get the supplies and services you need to continue to operate. Consider modifying existing contracts to protect your interests.

7. Build in TRAINING REDUNDANCY to prepare for inevitable absenteeism

  • Consider that not only sick employees will stay home. Others might need to care for the sick or for children; quarantine situations might arise.

8. Establish & maintain an OPEN DIALOGUE WITH THE LOCAL COMMUNITIES where you operate

  • Determine which officials will be making decisions about food service, transportation and other essential services on a local level, and maintain an up-to-date contact list.
  • Reach out to leaders in your local communities to make them aware of your planning activities and ways that you can work together in the face of a pandemic. Foodservice for makeshift hospitals and the community at large could be needed; it’s best planned for in advance.

9. Consider ways to MINIMIZE LOSS OF REVENUE during times of “social distancing,” such as:

  • Modifying menus to respond to customer concerns or item shortages.
  • Increasing “takeout” options, including delivery and curbside delivery.
  • Determining ways and establishing safety protocols to increase delivery capacity.
  • Increasing remote ordering capacity and infrastructure support, online and by phone.

10. Try to allow employees to WORK REMOTELY WHEN POSSIBLE

  • While this isn’t possible for most restaurant employees, evaluate and establish policies and tools that will allow employees with administrative or financial work responsibilities to do so from home. Be sure to consider the hardware needs for this step.

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