‘New normal’ guidelines for restaurants out

Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star) - June 14, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism (DOT) has released guidelines for the operation of accredited restaurants under new normal circumstances.

On Monday, the DOT released a memorandum circular on “The New Normal Health and Safety Guidelines for DOT- Accredited Restaurants,” which focus on areas such as restaurant management, configuration or set-up, delivery services, sanitation and disinfection and guidelines for employees and customers, among others.

Among the guidelines include the completion of a health declaration form by employees prior to every duty as well as the monitoring of body temperature.

“The restaurant proprietor must ensure the monitoring of body temperature of all employees every time they report to work. Unwell employees or those with mild flu-like symptoms shall be directed to see a doctor and to stay at home,” DOT said.

In addition, the restaurant proprietor must also provide food safety apparel for all employees such as hairnets or hair caps, face masks, face shields, gloves apron and shoe cover.

“The restaurant proprietor must ensure that its employees are trained and regularly updated on health concerns and other related information by installing a safety bulletin board and maintain display of safety and health-related information in the working premises,” DOT added.

The guidelines also emphasized that a maximum customer capacity for the establishment at 50 percent of the seating or venue capacity should be implemented.

Meanwhile, in terms of restaurant configuration and set-up, DOT emphasized that restaurant seating capacity should allow at least one meter spacing between customers.

“Dining tables that can accommodate 10 guests shall accommodate only five guests,” DOT said.

It added that tables shall be arranged such that the distance from the back of one chair to the back of another chair shall be more than one meter apart and the guests face each other from a distance of at least one meter. If seats are fixed, alternate seats shall be marked out.

“Face-to-face seating in tables shall only be permissible when transparent dividers (e.g. acrylic plastic, plexiglass, sneeze guards, etc.) are installed,” DOT said.

The guidelines also emphasized that self-service and condiment stations, as well as buffet and salad bars shall be prohibited.

As part of the protocols for customers, DOT said restaurants should implement a no mask, “no entry policy” for customers and conduct a temperature check before entering the restaurant.

In addition, customers will have to fill out a health declaration form upon entry to the restaurant and provide details for contact tracing purposes.

“Customers shall provide their names and contact details in a contact-tracing log sheet to be provided by restaurant personnel should the necessity for contact-tracing arises,” DOT added.

Under the guidelines for sanitation and disinfection, the DOT said that the restaurant owner must ensure compliance with standards such as regular deep cleaning, proper disinfection, and sanitation within the restaurant’s premises; frequent sanitation and disinfection of high-touch surface such as bars, kitchen and countertops, cashiers, menu, tables, chairs, condiment containers, toilet fixtures, etc; and the washing, rinsing and sanitizing of food contact surfaces, dishware, utensils and beverage equipment before and after use,among others.

DOT added that all dishes, silverware, and glassware shall be washed and disinfected including items that have not been used.

“Restaurants are encouraged to invest in modern equipment to enhance the washing and disinfection of dishes, silverware and glassware,” DOT said.

The circular on the restaurant guidelines, which was signed June 8, is effective immediately.

“Any violation of these guidelines may subject the tourism enterprise to the appropriate fines and penalties, including revocation of its DOT accreditation, in accordance with relevant laws, rules, and regulations,” DOT said.

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