COVID-19 Best Practices for Restaurants: Navigating Coronavirus for Staff & Managers

COVID-19 Best Practices for Restaurants: Navigating Coronavirus for Staff & Managers
Dew Smith

By Dew Smith

The COVID-19 situation has developed rapidly over the last week, with the number of cases in the US skyrocketing, and many states taking drastic measures to slow the spread of the virus. With new social distancing and self-isolation strategies, it’s clear that COVID-19 will have, and is having, an extreme impact on the restaurant and hospitality industry.

Here’s what we know about the COVID-19 situation and what your restaurant can do during this uncertain time.

How is COVID-19 impacting restaurants?

COVID-19 is already impacting restaurants across the world—some more than others, with restaurants and other eating establishments being shut down by government order across the country.

It’s no doubt that restaurants will experience some, if not all, of the following:

  • Reduced sales (sales at New York restaurants have dropped by 37% since the beginning of February, Seattle by 42%, Toronto by 43%, and LA by 44%)
  • Fewer employees—with some staying home in self-isolation
  • Increased sales from delivery channels
  • Difficulty in sales projections—with current sales not projected to match any earlier weeks or days
COVID-19 impact on restaurant sales
COVID-19 impact on restaurant sales

❗Average sales at New York restaurants have dropped by 37% since the beginning of February, Seattle by 42%, Toronto by 43%, and LA by 44%

The next question is: what can your restaurant do to combat the negative business impacts of the current situation?

What can your restaurant do to protect against COVID-19?

Restaurant owners and operators are encouraged to review the online resources their state and local health departments have provided for the latest information about COVID-19 in their community, and take extra precautionary steps in the workplace to protect the safety and wellbeing of staff and guests.

Use the following guidelines and best practices to keep your restaurant prepared, connected, and safe during the coronavirus outbreak.

How restaurant managers can navigate COVID-19

  • Accept all sick requests
    • Employees do not require a doctor’s note
    • Government officials are currently considering new legislation to support staff and businesses
  • Put up posters about proper hygiene
    • Washing hands, avoiding touching eyes, mouth, face, properly sanitizing
  • Enforce short quarantine periods for any staff returning from travel
    • Symptoms should be monitored for 14 days after returning home
  • Have back-up plans ready—consider having some staff “on-call” for if a situation arises where you’re short-staffed
    • Note: pay attention to local labor laws surrounding on-call shifts and pay
  • Send Announcements to the team about any updates on the local situation or new protocol in the workplace
  • Provide proper supplies in the restaurant to maintain cleanliness and hygiene
    • Put sanitizing hand rub dispensers in prominent areas around the restaurant
    • Ensure that face masks and / or paper tissues are available on the premises
    • Supply servers, hosts, and kitchen staff with gloves
  • If staff exhibit any symptoms, send them home (fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties)
  • Focus on other revenue channels
    • Focus on other channels like third-party delivery
    • Offer discounts on delivery/takeout
  • Leverage social media to provide updates to guests
    • Post about any new procedures your restaurant is taking
    • Show cleanliness, like kitchen and servers wearing gloves, sanitizing the restaurant, etc
    • Encourage guests to order take-out or delivery

    How restaurant staff can navigate COVID-19

    • Take time off if you feel ill
      • Employees no longer require a doctor’s note
      • Government officials are currently considering new legislation to support staff with paid time off
    • Practice proper hygiene
      • Properly wash your hands frequently throughout the day for at least 20 seconds
      • Avoid touching your face, eyes, and mouth
    • Self-quarantine after travel
      • Symptoms should be monitored for 14 days after returning home
    • Communicate with staff and managers
      • Monitor 7shifts Announcements from management for updates on the situation
      • Communicate with your manager about any changes to your situation—whether you’ve recently travelled or are feeling unwell
    • Practice proper restaurant sanitization
      • Properly sanitize tables and seating areas thoroughly between each group
      • Provide guests with hand sanitizer and tissues upon request
    • If coworkers exhibit any symptoms, let your manager know (fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties)

    How to leverage 7shifts during the COVID-19 situation

    If your restaurant uses 7shifts to manage labor, there are many ways you can make use of the communication and scheduling features to help you navigate the COVID-19 situation.

    1.Using Announcements & Messaging to connect with staff

    It’s important for restaurant owners/managers to increase awareness about COVID-19 through communication with their staff. This can be done with the 7shifts Announcement and Messaging tools.

    Use messages to keep your staff informed and prepared about:

    • Tips for hand washing and hygiene
    • How to sanitize the restaurant
    • Protocol around staying home and sick time
    • Updates about hours of operation
    • Etc.

    Learn more about communication →

    2. Using 7tasks to organize task lists

    In order to ensure the safety of guests and staff, restaurants will have to adopt new precautionary steps to ensure their stores are thoroughly sanitized in response to COVID-19. It’s important that restaurants are ensuring frequent cleaning, with particular attention to high-touch services such as bars, kitchens, cash registers, restaurant tables, and menus.

    With our online task management tool, 7tasks, restaurants can better manage hygiene-related tasks during this time. Try creating tasks lists that include tasks such as:

    • Sanitizing menus after each use
    • Properly disinfecting tables and chairs between guest seatings
    • Refilling hand sanitizing dispensers
    • Properly sanitizing the kitchen area frequently
    • And more

    Read more about 7tasks →

    3. Time-off request management

    Utilizing the time-off functionality in 7shifts allows your restaurant to support employees who are sick and/or are experiencing symptoms without having to juggle calls, texts, or emails. Staff can easily submit their time-off requests through their mobile device, or put their shifts “up for grabs” in the Shift Pool to find a replacement.

    Using the time off and Shift Pool functionality of 7shifts can help your restaurant manage the schedule digitally and keep staff up-to-date about any shift changes.

    Learn about time-off and availability management →

    4. Manager Log Book

    The 7shifts Manager Log Book provides a communication channel for managers to stay in-sync during the uncertain times.

    You can use this manager channel to keep track of the business and make note of items such as:

    • The impact on the business (# of guests seated/day, impact on sales)
    • Keeping track of any employees affected
    • Any new developments in COVID-19 as it relates to their business
    • Updates on store hours or changes to the operation

    Learn about the Manager Log Book →

    5. Updating your schedule and shifts

    Keep your schedule up-to-date so managers and staff know what to expect. Here are a few things you can do:


    We know that keeping restaurant staff and guests safe and healthy during the current situation with COVID-19is a priority—and at 7shifts, our goal is to provide restaurateurs with the information, updates, and tools required to do this effectively.

    For the restaurants who are navigating new challenges around COVID-19, it’s important to ensure that you’re working with your staff to keep your team connected and prepared.

    We’re committed to supporting your team—whether through communicating with staff, accepting time off, or planning your schedule for sales fluctuations.

    Leverage 7shifts to keep your restaurant connected and prepared:

    Please reach out if you need assistance, as we are dedicated to supporting the restaurant industry to which we all belong.

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    Dew Smith
    Dew Smith

    Hey! I'm Dew, the former Brand Strategist. I cultivated 7shifts' social and content garden, and I looked for ways to grow our network of restaurateurs, local talent, and tech companies.