With restaurants set to open across the country on June 8 as part of Unlock 1.0, the Tamil Nadu government has issued a set of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for restaurants in the state. Till now, only delivery services were allowed from food outlets across the state while dine-in was entirely banned.
Featuring among the facilities to be made available at these restaurants are the seating arrangements. A distance of one square meter to be allowed between tables, regular and periodic disinfection of touchpoints, disposable menu cards, paper instead of cloth napkins, separate entry and exit points, open air ventilation instead of air conditioning, and mandatory thermal screening for customers and employees. At any given point, only 50% of total capacity is to be allowed inside the dining area, waiting area for dining/take away, and inside elevators.
Staff who are at higher risk, namely older employees, pregnant women or those with comorbidities like diabetes and hypertension, are advised to take extra precautions and opt out of frontline work. Anyone found to have fever at the thermal screening point are to refrain from working altogether. Biometric attendance is to be avoided, CCTV cameras to be placed at the entrance while restaurants should advise all employees to install the Aarogya Setu app.
The SOP also has a few pointers to deal with employee anxiety if someone should test for COVID-19 and to address the social stigma associated with the disease.
All restaurant employees will have to wear face masks and gloves at all times, and sanitise their hands every 30 minutes. In addition to this, vegetables, dhal, rice, etc., will have to be cleaned well with 50 parts per million (ppm) chlorine before being cooked.
Restaurants have been advised to encourage take-outs and home deliveries while following necessary protocols for the delivery personnel. Online money transfer and using QR codes for receiving cashless transactions have been advised.