How Risk Management for Bars & Restaurants Has Changed
From Thursday 24th February, all coronavirus restrictions in England will be axed. With no legal duty for people experiencing symptoms to isolate. And from April, people will no longer have access to free testing (except for those deemed ‘vulnerable’).
How does this ‘return to normal’ affect bar owners and restaurateurs venturing forward into the rest of 2022?
Undoubtedly, risk management will still need to adapt to the new landscape. The government is replacing its Working Safely guidance with new public health guidance from 1st April, which will help hospitality businesses such as bars and restaurants with key advice on managing risk around COVID-19.
As of 1st April, employers will no longer need to explicitly consider COVID-19 in their risk assessments. However, this is not to say that they shouldn’t. It simply encourages business owners to take responsibility for risk mitigation, depending on the needs of their organisation.
Things won’t be truly ‘back to normal’ for a long time. We’ll be living with COVID-19 for some time to come. Here are three key areas bar and restaurant owners will need to consider moving forward when it comes to managing risk.
Safety for vulnerable workers and customers
With much of the population vaccinated and many still taking steps to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus, the outlook is good. It’s important to remember, however, that many people still remain vulnerable.
The government has advised that business owners still need to consider the needs of those at greater risk of serious illness from the virus. Both customers and staff need to be protected and business owners should take reasonable steps to ensure this. Bars and restaurants can get crowded and the risk of transmission in these types of places can be high. Risk management strategies should consider elements like ventilation, staff wearing masks and frequent cleaning and sanitising of surfaces, tools and hands.
Protecting customer data
The pandemic thrust a lot of establishments years into the future, by forcing them to adapt to a more digital way of working. From online delivery ordering to table QR codes. For many, this has been a welcome change, helping businesses manage safety and reach more customers. But, with the increased reliance on digital, businesses need to consider the state of their cyber security and data protection policies. Customer data must be protected and the cost relating to a data breach could be severe. More hospitality businesses might need to consider updating their cyber policies and investing in more secure CRM systems. Not to mention cyber insurance to protect them should they experience a problem.
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Staffing levels for the industry are still nowhere near where they were in 2019. Businesses without sufficient staff numbers may need to reconsider their operating hours as, without the right number of staff, particularly in establishments such as bars, this could mean a threat to public safety. We wrote previously about the impact of security staff shortages (/hub/security-staff-shortage/) for bars and nightclubs. Businesses must consider in their risk assessments, how to manage with less staff, while still keeping their customers and workers safe.
This is a time of transition for hospitality businesses. The future of the industry is uncertain, but many are hopeful that new guidance is a sign of better things to come for our nation’s bars and restaurants. By focusing on developing detailed risk management strategies and investing in cover that will protect against the cost of potential risks, business owners can begin to breathe a little easier.
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