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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice for businesses introducing takeaway and delivery options

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Business Closure) (England) Regulations 2020 require the closure of businesses selling food or drink for consumption on the premises in:

  • Restaurants, including restaurants and dining rooms in hotels or members clubs
  • Cafes, including workplace canteens, but not including
    • cafes or canteens at a hospital, care home or school
    • canteens at a prison or an establishment intended for use for naval, military or air force purposes or for the purposes of the Department of the Secretary of State responsible for defence
    • services providing food or drink to the homeless
  • Bars, including bars in hotels or members' clubs
  • Public houses

And requires the full closure of the following premises from the 21 March 2020:

  • Cinemas
  • Theatres
  • Nightclubs
  • Bingo halls
  • Concert halls
  • Museums and galleries
  • Casinos
  • Betting shops
  • Spas
  • Massage parlours
  • Indoor skating rinks
  • Indoor fitness studios, gyms, swimming pools or other indoor leisure centres

Takeaway and delivery facilities can remain open and operational. This means people can continue to enter premises to access takeaway services, including delivery drivers. Planning regulation will be changed to enable restaurants, cafes and pubs which do not currently offer delivery and hot food takeaway to do so.

If you plan on changing your current operation you must notify the Council via email at developmentservices@southtyneside.gov.uk

Those venues offering takeaway or delivery services must not include alcoholic beverages in this list if their license does not already permit. Any forthcoming changes to licensing for delivery and takeaway will be clearly communicated by the government.

Business owners have a duty of care to ensure the safety of employees and members of the public. We all need to do what we can to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

You must ensure that those individuals visiting premises for the purpose of takeaway / collection adhere to Government advice regarding social distancing and ensure that a distance of 2m is maintained between customers. This must be suitably managed by staff on site.

If you are changing how you usually operate then you should think through the hazards and ensure that you have control measures in place:

  • cashless payments should be set up to avoid cash/change payment at the site of delivery - BACS, telephone card payment, or similar is suggested
  • any advertising/menu should include an allergen prompt to encourage anyone with an allergy or dietary requirement to enquire about this in advance
  • the allergy information in Safer Food Better Business (SFBB) should be followed and a decision made whether any particular allergy requirement can be catered for or not. Furthermore, a general assessment needs to be made as to whether a delivery service can be safely provided alongside an in-house food service. The Safer Food Better Business pack should be updated/enhanced to reflect the delivery service and how it will be offered safely
  • it is advised that food is offered cooked and ready to consume immediately i.e. the customer cooling food for consumption later is best avoided
  • determine if you are also going to cook, cool and send food out cold for consumption at a later time - if so, the cooling of food safe methods must be followed in Safer Food Better Business and the advice to the customer should be to fully re-heat, where appropriate (above 75oC) /until piping hot and to consume the same day

Food cooking / packing

  • it is suggested that you record the core temperature of your cooked high risk food in your SFBB diary daily
  • food should not be cooked too far in advance of service and adequate provision needs to be made for it to be hot held until sent out for delivery at 63oC or above
  • food should be packaged in a disposable, lidded container - this should not be returned by the customer for re-use
  • provide an adequate number of insulated boxes for delivery to ensure the food arrives to the customer at 63oC or above - the distance and number of deliveries needing to be made will form part of this consideration and it is recommended to keep distances fairly short and times limited to within 30 minutes
  • it is strongly suggested that the insulated box is made of a wipeable material i.e. plastic or similar, rather than cloth/fabric based as this will not be easy to sanitise on a regular basis
  • the insulated box should be sanitised (both internally and externally) at the start of the day before used for carrying food and after deliveries, and also regularly throughout the day
  • consideration will need to be given to a separate insulated box for any cold food deliveries i.e. food to be re-heated later in the day or cold puddings. These should be supplied with an adequate number of ice packs to ensure cold food arrives at 8oC or colder - the ice packs should be sanitised as per the insulated box
  • carry out periodic checks to ensure the food is arriving adequately hot or cold and record this in the Safer Food Diary
  • allergenic ingredients information should be clearly relayed to the customer, ensure that cross contamination of allergens during transport/delivery are suitably controlled

Use of delivery staff / vehicles

  • check that the car insurance of the delivery driver covers business use and that the vehicle is safe (copy of most recent MOT, or similar)
  • the vehicle should be generally clean and tidy
  • there should also be no smoking in the vehicle
  • the delivery driver should be given a basic induction on handling the food correctly and health monitoring should be in place - staff need to be checked daily to ensure they aren't showing any relevant Coronavirus symptoms (fever, persistent cough etc.) If so, they need to be immediately sent home as per the self-isolation guidance. The usual 48-hour exclusion applies for (non-Coronavirus related) sickness and diarrhoea
  • the driver, where possible, should avoid coming into the main kitchen area and avoid excessive kitchen staff contact - it is suggested that one of the kitchen staff 'box up' the food and place in a low risk area of the kitchen ready for the driver to pick up and deliver
  • the driver should wash their hands with soap and water both on arrival and returning to the kitchen

Food delivery

  • if possible, the driver should be provided with alcohol hand sanitiser at 60%+ alcohol content as suggested by Public Health England - for periodic use between the individual deliveries
  • it is preferable there is no physical handing over of the food from the driver to the customer
  • there should be a set drop off point established in advance such as the door step
  • the doorbell or door can then be rung/knocked and the driver to distance themselves 6 feet (2 Metres) as per Public Health guidance - this is especially important where a customer is either in self-isolation or ill
  • you must ensure you have a system in place to enable the customer to notify you of any self-isolation/illness in advance of delivering
  • drivers should not enter the customer's property in any circumstance
  • consideration needs to be given where a customer does not answer the door as to whether the food will be left or returned - setting up an approximate time of delivery and contact details such as a telephone number should help minimise this issue

Food takeaway

If you plan to provide food which customers can collect from your premises, much of the guidance above still applies. You should encourage non-cash payments, with telephone, BACS or contactless payments being preferable.

You should also designate a low risk area for handover of the food. This should be well away from the kitchen area and at a distance from as many staff as possible.

Staff handing over the food should place the food down and keep a sensible distance from the customer. This area should regularly be sanitised throughout the day and staff should wash their hands after each handover.

Further guidance / links

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has provided advice for business - 'How to manage a food business if you sell products online, for takeaway or for delivery.' Food Standards Agency: Distance selling, mail order and delivery

Allergens - There is a wealth of advice for businesses on allergen management on the FSA website at Food Standards Agency: Allergen guidance for food businesses

The Government has issued guidance on COVID-19 for employees and businesses GOV.UK: Guidance to employers and businesses about COVID-19

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