Spain has fully entered the so-called “new normality” while remaining prepared and bolstered to curb the spread of a coronavirus that has seriously decimated the national economy, of which gastronomy is one of the pillars. We Spaniards love to socialise, to meet with whatever excuse or no excuse at all and to celebrate for no apparent reason. And our favourite place to do so are the bars and restaurants, where so much importance is given to disinfection, since we come into direct contact with each other, but also with utensils such as plates, glasses or cutlery, among others. These utensils are previously and subsequently used by other people and put into the mouth, which is one of COVID-19’s primary entry points into the body.
As all sectors of the economy resume at the pace that the pandemic allows, it is the responsibility of consumers, workers and employers to prevent the spread of coronavirus in meeting places such as bars and restaurants. Therefore, the first step must be for the establishment to make a firm commitment to minimise the risk through various coordinated processes
How will the consumer be able to notice the steps taken when they are on the premises? One way of generating confidence is the provision of hydro-alcoholic gel and disinfectant dispensing stations at various points, especially at the entrance and exit of the premises. While keeping hands clean and protected is essential, we must also be strict about cleaning the soles of shoes, as people are constantly coming in and out of bars and restaurants. Providing disinfection points for shoes is more than worthwhile. It is the responsibility of the premises to encourage customers, if they don’t already, to go through this disinfection process.
Naturally, the continuous and frequent disinfection and cleaning of both the areas open to the public and those that are not is extremely important, since anyone can be a vehicle for the virus and this includes workers, and even more so at the points of heavy contact. These include door handles and knobs, chairs and tables, buttons, bars, handrails, carpets, vending machines, etc. As for the menus, it is best to replace them with posters or boards that are easy to see, disposable menus or simply the waiter’s voice. If the establishment wants to keep them, they must be laminated and then disinfected after each use.
A mistake that we may not notice, given the fact that in Murcia the air conditioning is almost automatically switched on in summer, is to turn these devices on, either at a higher or lower power, to generate a constant air flow.
When the time comes that the premises appear to be safe for customers and they are ready to indulge in their orders, restaurants must be strict with measures and recommendations they had in place before the pandemic spread. These include frequent hand washing when handling food and the use of different knives for raw and cooked foods, to avoid risk of contamination.
Once customers have left the bar or restaurant, following a series of safety measures in which it is still recommended to pay by credit card instead of cash, those in charge of the premises must disinfect the tables, chairs, stools, bar or any other place where people congregate. This must be done immediately after leaving and before other people come into contact.
It is everyone’s responsibility to continue taking steps to overcome the coronavirus pandemic, and continuous disinfection in places like bars and restaurants, our favourite places to socialise, plays a crucial role.