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How to offer a takeaway service during Covid-19

As the coronavirus lockdown looks set to continue, we speak to Kirstie Jones, environmental health expert at digital food safety company Navitas, to find out how restaurants can set up a takeaway service

The high streets may seem very quiet, but many restaurant owners have turned their hand to take away services and many kitchens continue to operate behind the scenes.

While all eat-in fish and chip restaurant doors are closed there is still a way to bring that Friday night fish supper tradition into the home and keep your regular customers happy so they will be sure to come back to you when it is business as usual.

So dust off that frying range and give it a try – you never know, you may be able to continue take away and/or home delivery services in the future. It could expand your long-term customer base and it will most certainly help out with the overheads that didn’t lockdown in the same way we have!

If you haven’t operated a takeaway service from your premises before, don’t worry, as Planning Regulations have been relaxed to enable restaurants and cafes which did not previously offer delivery and hot food takeaway to do so. You won’t need to go through a full planning application but you will need to tell your local planning department when your takeaway business will start. Although don’t be tempted to diversify too much, as controls surrounding alcohol sales haven’t changed, and you will need a license for this. As it is likely that you will be working with a smaller number of staff, you may need to limit your menu to accommodate production and delivery/collection slots.

Advertising your takeaway services can be as cheap as chips these days – or even free if setting up a group on social media. Advertise your pre-planned menu, service times, ordering and payment arrangements so everyone is aware in advance or ordering.

Non-contact home deliveries arrangements are fairly simple to put into place, although do remember to check your vehicle insurance and amend as required. If offering pre-ordered collections, customers can enter premises to access take away services, but no food or drinks must be consumed on site and remember to ensure that the two meter distancing controls are in place and adhered to at all times. This could be achieved by limiting access inside and spacing queuing outside. Online or contactless card payments are also preferred to contribute to the distancing arrangements. Signage listing these rules offers a timely reminder to customers whilst they wait.

Also consider the way staff work in the kitchen when preparing orders to ensure distancing is maintained here as far as is reasonably practicable. This will depend on the size of the kitchen and team but could include staggering breaks and use of workspaces. Enhanced cleaning, disinfection and hand washing will also be required - viruses are known to survive on surfaces for up to 72 hours. Staff involved in the takeaway service should be checked daily to ensure they remain fit to work.

Current scientific knowledge would suggest that there is no link to the spread of coronavirus through food itself, however, if you are changing the way you usually operate you will need to consider any new hazards that this may bring – you may need to revise or introduce hot holding for example. These changes should be written down in support of your existing HACCP or Food Safety Management System.

Good luck with your new business venture!

Further information on areas for consideration can be found in Navitas's Best Practice Guide For Operating As A Takeaway which can be downloaded for free here

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