Under the COVID-19 framework for food service establishments, a set of guidelines have been developed for employees involved in these operations, so as to prevent exposure to the virus, and mitigate hazards within the food industry.
The protocols have been designed to work in conjunction with the food hygiene regulations of the Health Services Act Cap 44.
They address matters relating to hygiene practices, the wearing of face masks and the management of workers who may be ill, among other things.
The protocols state:
- It is important to ensure that persons who are handling food are healthy. An employee’s health status report is needed at the beginning of each shift.
- Any employee experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath or loss of the sense of taste or smell, must be excluded from the establishment immediately and sanitation operating procedures (SSOPs) need to be followed strictly.
- An employee who is absent from work due to suspected COVID-19 symptoms shall not return to work unless certified by a medical officer of health.
- Upon entering the work place, all persons’ hands must be washed or sanitized;
- Upon entering the workplace, all persons will have their temperature taken. Any person with a temperature above 37.5degrees Celsius or 99 degrees Fahrenheit shall not be permitted in the workplace.
- Face masks should be made available to staff.
- Employees must wash hands with soap and water according to the handwashing protocol for 20 seconds at the commencement of work.
- Employees must follow the principles of good hand hygiene throughout the food handling process.
- All food handlers shall wear face masks during working hours.
- Single-use masks must be discarded after each use. Cloth masks must be laundered at the end of each use. No masks must be worn for more than four hours at a time, and should be changed if it becomes damp (disposable masks are preferable as their changing can be easily regulated).
- Observe respiratory hygiene at all times and wash hands with soap and water.
- Clean and sanitize frequently touched surfaces, such as the shelves and countertops for grab-n-go food items.
- All eating utensils provided need to be in a sealed package.
- If communication is necessary between food service staff, customers, or delivery personnel, all parties shall, where practical, observe appropriate social distancing according to the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ guidelines.
- In addition, all delivery persons must wear a face mask at the point of delivery.
Owners and operators of food service establishments, who may need assistance in implementing these protocols, have been advised to contact the Environmental Health Department of the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
Meanwhile, customers patronizing these establishments are encouraged to wear a mask when receiving items at the drive-through pick-up window, or point of delivery. In the absence of a mask, social distancing must be practised during the payment and delivery transaction.