Restaurants and bars will look very different in The Bahamas because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and the tourism and hospitality sector’s response to it, with constant sanitizing, physical distancing considerations and the need to introduce new products to aid in virus spread mitigation.
The Tourism Readiness and Recovery Committee’s plan outlines about 50 operational changes suggested for indoor restaurants, bars and lounges, including drinks without garnishment, condiments in single-use containers and single-use salt and pepper packages in lieu of shakers.
These changes, according to the plan, are essential parts of moving The Bahamas into its fifth phase and reopening the tourism sector.
Bars, restaurants and lounges will be required to completely retool the configuration of their premises and the way they present their menus. The plan suggests having separate entrances and exits where possible.
It calls for host podiums to be sanitized at least once per hour; for point-of-sale terminals to be assigned to a single server where possible and sanitized between users; for condiments to be placed in single-use containers; menus to be single-use; menus to be limited in order to accommodate social distance-conscious food prep; bar seating to be reduced and lounge seating, tables and booths reconfigured for physical distancing; and for only bottled water to be served, among other things.
“Hostesses and managers are to manage physical distancing at entry points, waiting areas and queues,” the plan states.
“When it is possible, consider designated entrances and exits, reducing face-to-face exposure upon entrance and exiting.
“Chefs are to manage physical distancing where possible in all back-of-house areas.”
The plan also governs back-of-house areas, calling for food preparation stations to be sanitized at least once per hour; for kitchens to be deep cleaned and sanitized before and at the end of each shift; and for contactless methods of transferring food and beverage items from one employee to another.
“Employees are to keep and maintain adequate distance when taking guest orders,” the plan states.
“Managers are to keep and maintain adequate distance when touching tables and monitoring the guests.”
While restaurants are not yet offering a dine-in option, the full opening of the tourism sector could be less than one month away, on July 1.
Tourism sector stakeholders said, during a press conference to announce the plan, that they are indeed ready to welcome visitors back into the country and into hotel restaurants.
The plan seeks to ensure those areas are ready to receive guests in a way that mitigates any potential transmission of COVID-19.
The plan adds: “If an employee must cough or sneeze, they will be required to do so away from guest dining spaces and from view. Ensure that the employee follows necessary protocols and immediately wash hands afterwards.”