Covid Team Meeting - Latest Update March 22
Can COVID-19 be passed on through food?
There is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 is passed on through food. The main risk of transmission is from close contact with infected people. The advice to food businesses and consumers is to maintain good hygiene practices and to wash your hands regularly. Thorough cooking will kill the virus.
How is COVID-19 passed on?
The virus is commonly passed on:
• directly, through contact with an infected person's body fluids (for example, droplets from coughing or sneezing
• indirectly, through contact with surfaces that an infected person has coughed or sneezed on
Current information suggests that the virus could survive up to 72 hours (3 days) on hard surfaces depending on the material. However, the numbers of virus will reduce considerably over that time as it dies off. Simple household disinfectants can kill it.
What can food workers do to prevent the spread of COVID-19?
Normal fitness to work procedures operated in food businesses should ensure that infected workers do not handle food. Staff should not work if they have any of the symptoms of COVID-19. Should an infected worker handle food it is possible that they could introduce virus to the food they are working on, or onto surfaces within the food business, by coughing and sneezing, or through hand contact, unless they strictly follow good personal hygiene practices.
• proper hand hygiene
• cough/cold hygiene practices
• safe food practices
• avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing
In addition, the HSE is advising 'social distancing' to help slow the spread of coronavirus.
Is handwashing important?
Yes, handwashing is extremely important. Food workers must wash hands:
• after coughing, sneezing or blowing nose
• before handling cooked or ready-to-eat food
• after handling or preparing raw food
• after handling waste
• after cleaning duties
• after using the toilet
• after eating, drinking or smoking
• after handling money
• generally, on a regular basis
Good hygiene and cleaning are also important to avoid cross-contamination between raw or undercooked foods and cooked or ready-to-eat foods in the kitchen.
What is the proper hand washing technique?
Wet hands under warm running water
• Use enough soap to form a good lather
• Rub all parts of hands with soap and water
• Lather for at least 20 seconds, vigorously and thoroughly rubbing all hand surfaces, including the fingertips and thumbs
• Rinse hands thoroughly with running water
• Dry hands thoroughly, using disposable paper towels, if possible
Do food workers need to wear gloves?
No. It is perfectly acceptable to prepare and handle food with bare hands provided proper hand washing procedures are in place.
Gloves may be used by food workers, but they must ensure that the gloves are changed frequently and that hands are washed between glove changes and when gloves are removed.
Gloves must be changed after carrying out non-food related activities such as opening/closing doors by hand, emptying bins, handling money, etc.
Food workers should be aware that wearing gloves can allow bacteria to build up on the surface of the hands, so hand washing is extremely important when gloves are removed to avoid subsequent contamination of food.
It is important to wash your hands even when wearing gloves, as contaminated gloves can spread germs to your hands when removing the gloves.
If I wear gloves, is handwashing still important?
Proper hand washing is extremely important, whether using gloves or not. If using gloves, hand washing should be carried out before putting gloves on, between glove changes and after gloves are removed.
The problem with the use of gloves is that if staff are not given proper training in food safety, gloves are often seen as a barrier to food contamination. Staff may then carry out many non-food related tasks (e.g. handling money, emptying bins, wiping counters) while wearing the same pair of gloves that they then use to prepare food.
When wearing gloves for a prolonged period of time, without frequent changing and hand washing, bacteria on the skin rapidly multiply due to the warm, moist environment created by the gloves. If the gloves tear or are removed and food is handled without hand washing, a high number of bacteria can be transferred to the food.
See WHO advice on use of gloves
Is there a risk to consumers from 'open' food?
There is currently little scientific information about the survival of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) on the surface of open food. Work with similar viruses shows that some food surfaces don’t allow the virus to survive at all, but some do.
Therefore, it is important to maintain good hygiene practices around open food (e.g. unpackaged bread, cakes, fruit, salad bars etc.) and this will reduce the risk of contamination of the food. People should strictly observe good personal hygiene practices at all times around open food. Customers and food businesses are expected to behave in a hygienic manner. Food businesses are obliged to monitor open food displays to make sure they are hygienic and avoid having such open food displays near tills or serve- over counters, where customers are ordering or paying for food.
How should food businesses manage open food displays?
To help avoid the transmission of COVID-19 through surface contact, frequent washing and sanitizing of all food contact surfaces and utensils is advised.
Food service workers must practice frequent hand washing and, if using gloves, must change them before and after preparing food. Food service workers must ensure frequent cleaning and sanitizing of counters, serving utensils and condiment containers.
If possible, hand sanitizer should be made available to consumers on their way in and out of the food premises.
What extra measures can food business owners/managers take?
Where employees attend work the HSE has recommended that social distancing should be implemented to help slow the spread of COVID-19. This involves maintaining a distance of 2 metres (6.5 feet) between people and reduced social interactions.
To implement social distancing, food businesses could:
• space out tables and chairs in dining areas so they are 2 meters apart
• remove in-store seating if possible
• limit the number of people who can come into your food business / restaurant / supermarket / market stall etc. at any one time
• offer a ‘take-away’ food service if possible
• use spacing measures (e.g. floor markers) at tills or queues, if possible
• use a ticketing system if appropriate
Consumers showing any sign of COVID-19 symptoms (fever, new persistent cough, shortness of breath) should avoid any interactions with other members of the public. They should avoid going to shops, supermarkets, restaurants, take-aways, cafes, etc.
Food business owners should ensure that staff are aware of the COVID-19 situation and the advice being given by the HSE in relation to symptoms, social distancing, restricted movement, self-isolation and travel.
Avoid handling money and encourage the use of contactless payments if possible. If food workers must handle money, it is important to wash hands afterwards and always before handling food.
Some food businesses have ceased using ‘keep’ cups / containers as an extra precautionary measure and are just using disposable drinking containers. This is a measure put in place by individual businesses to reduce risk to workers and should be supported by customers. (It is not a requirement set out by the FSAI or by the HSE.)
Hand sanitisers should be provided by businesses where possible.
Wipes could be provided for customers to clean the handles of shopping trollies and baskets.
Touch points e.g. trollies, keypads, door handles etc., should be cleaned more frequently. Keep doors open where possible to minimise contact.
In general, food business owners should remember that they have particular responsibilities under food law and must maintain proper hygiene practices at all times.
They should, in general:
• ensure that staff are trained appropriately in food hygiene and hygienic practices
• ensure effective supervision of staff to reinforce hygienic practices
• provide the correct facilities e.g. hand washing, toilets, to enable staff to practice good hygiene
• ensure staff and contractors report any physical signs/symptoms of illness, before commencing work or while in the workplace
• keep vigilant and ensure that staff are not ill and are fit to work
Do I need to recall food products if a food worker was potentially shedding the virus while working?
There is currently no evidence to indicate transmission of COVID-19 through food or food packaging.
Food businesses are required to maintain clean and sanitized facilities and food contact surfaces, therefore a ‘deep clean’ is advised following potential infection of a food worker in the premises along with exclusion of co-workers who are close contacts (anyone who has spent more than 15 minutes within 2 meters of an infected person) in line with HSE advice.
If a staff member in my food business has tested positive for COVID-19, do I need to close?
Food businesses should follow the advice of the HSE. Any decision to close a business will be based on public health risk of person-to-person transmission and not based on a food safety risk.
If a food worker has tested positive for COVID-19, do I need to advise other food workers to self-isolate?
Food businesses should follow the advice of the HSE.
What should food business owners/managers do if they have a supply chain problem caused by COVID-19?
Due to a disruption in their supply chain, certain ingredients and packaging might be in short supply and food businesses may be considering some of the following:
• leaving out or substituting ingredients in a product
• changing their packaging
• changing their process
In these situations, it is important that food businesses remember their legal obligations to only place safe food on the market.
Any change to product, packaging or processing requires a full review of the businesses food safety management system (GHP and HACCP).
This will allow them to:
• risk assess any food safety issues that could result from the proposed changes
• put in place controls to manage any risks identified
• document the changes
Examples of issues to consider include:
• the introduction of allergens when changing ingredients and/or ingredient suppliers
• safe shelf-life if packaging changes and/or the product is formulated differently
• the introduction of new microbiological, physical, chemical hazards with new ingredients
There may be other issues depending on the type of business/product involved.
Is there a risk with food products or ingredients which are imported from an affected country/region?
No, COVID-19 is not transmitted through food or ingredients. Even if surfaces or packaging have been contaminated, the virus will only survive on such surfaces for a short period, therefore there is no risk of contamination.
Read more information on COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and food from the European Food Safety Authority
WHO guidance on getting your workplace ready for COVID-19
The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment have information on business continuity planning
The Irish Government is providing information, health and travel advice and updates about COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
WHO (World Health Organisation) advice:
• Up to date information on the outbreak and health advice to people
• Water, sanitation, hygiene and wastemanagement for COVID-19
See frequently asked questions (FAQs) from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC). Last reviewed: 23/3/2020
Covid-19 Team Action Plan – update March 12
Here at The Twelve, the safety of our guests andteam members is our top priority. As we look forward to continuing to welcome our locals, our regulars and guests from all over the country and around the world, we have stepped up our preparedness so we can offer the same special welcome and service to which our guests have become accustomed.
With that in mind, we’d like to share with you some of the proactive measures we are taking in light of the current and changing challenges of Covid-19.
We will continue to follow updates and apply protocols from the HSE, ensuring we are going above and beyond to look after our valued guests as always.
Many thanks for your continued and valued custom,
The Twelve Team
Public areas, reception and lobby
o A team member visible at all times wiping surfaces in lobby and other public areas will be reassuring for guests and our team. A Checklist has been created. This is again about visibility, care and reassurance.
o Visible notices and reminders to wash hands and use hand sanitiser, and also visible notices informing guests of the measures you are taking to protect them and staff.
o Hand sanitisers at front desks, wipes and sprays to clean card machines after each use.
o Check in — limit physical interaction between staff and guests — e.g.ask can bills be emailed to guests rather than printed?
o Reduce the use of cash exchange as much as possible.
Restaurant /Bar / Dozzina / Bakery
o Limit cash exchanges everywhere. Encourage card, room charge or tabs to reduce the exchange of cash.
o Menus should be cleaned down constantly and we need to reduce the total number. We can offer the option for guests to view the menu on their own device or to download it We will also try to put it on the projector. This way, no guest will have to touch a physical menu.
o We will cut out sharing plates from the menus.
o We will reduce the number of items on the menu to streamline the number of kitchen staff required and the amount of goods ordered. Chef is working on this.
o Visibly clean every table after each guest's use, condiments, saltshakers etc. cleaned after everyuse.
o We need to consider the work flow of cutlery, crockery, glasses etc. coming from the dishwasher, glass washer or storage to the shelves and eventually customers. Then look at the work flow of the return of dirty glasses, plates etc. from the public to where they are to be cleaned. We need to keep these flows separate. Ideally a separate person should be serving the clean item to the public to the one taking dirty glasses and whoever is touching the clean glasses should never touch a glass that has been used. If other best practice measures are taken by staff, then keeping these processes as separate as possible may lessen any risk.
o Wrap clean cutlery in roll ups rather than placing on the bare table.
o Try to ensure that staff hands are not touching the inside or outside of the tops of glasses or cups being served, and that glasses/cups etc. are served to the public by someone who is consistently washing their hands.
o Buffet breakfasts —our guests are currently touching the same shared serving spoons and ladles. They touch spoons and knives around fruit, cheese, breads and the meat. So, the breakfast staff need to serve guests at the buffet counter — one person serving guests limits the opportunity created by multiple contacts with the same surfaces.
o We can use a large individual serving spoon at each table as part of the cutlery for each guest—guests then use that spoon to get food from cereal and other sections at breakfast. The team to communicate this at breakfast.
o We will provide gloves for our guests to use at the buffet.
o We will take a series of staged images of West and Pins, lobby and other relevant spaces configured to adhere to social distancing so that we can present this through social media. We are reducing our capacity within the restaurants by blocking every second table.
o Refuse reusable cups or water bottles in the bakery.
o Remove the 2 chairs for waiting in pizza dozzina.
o Menu on display in Dozzina rather than paper menus touched by everyone
o There must be someone visible on the corridors cleaning elevator buttons, door handles etc.
o We will make a short video that shows how each room is protected for the next guest i.e.house keeper puts gloves on, cleans every surface, with focus on constantly touched areas — handles of wardrobes, coffee machine, remotes, switches etc. and then leaves room, removes and discards gloves and begins again.
o We are removing for the time being any unnecessary objects that are not changed daily that other previous guests may have touched e.g. pens, stationary, magazines, throws and cushions. Anything unnecessary which is not changed daily is to be removed — we will explain to guests why this is a necessary step.
o We have the in room tablet which guests need to be directed to for all information. We will also upload our special corvid-19 procedures to this.
Le Petit Spa
o Therapists will be wearing gloves and masks and will follow all the guidelines with regard to hand washing and sanitizing all areas.
Meetings / Conferences / Private Dining
o We will effectively double any meeting space to accommodate double the space for a group by putting a full chair or two between guests.
o Have an appropriate supply of hand sanitiser units, regularly replenished.
o Have someone serving tea and coffee with gloves, rather than self service.
o Paper sachets of sugar rather than any open surfaces.
o Sandwiches, platters etc. should be served in portions or individual plates and replenished as needed.
o Visible notices and reminders to wash hands and use hand sanitiser, and also visible notices informing attendees of the measures we are taking to protect them and our team.
Our Staff Welfare
o We actively encourage sick employees to stay home. Any symptoms reported by a team member means they must stay home and follow the HSE guidelines.
o Employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness are recommended to stay home and not come to work until they are free of fever (37.8° C or greater using an oral thermometer), signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants, paracetamol). Every team member should notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick.
o Anyone with holidays accrued can be considered to take them now.
o We will not require a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illness to validate their illness or to return to work, as healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely way. We are deferring to the principle of trust and good common sense from our employees on this matter.
o We are offering our employees the option to stay home to care for a sick family member. We need to be aware of this in our scheduling as more employees may need to stay at home to care for sick children or other sick family members than is usual.
o If it happens, we must separate sick employees — employees who appear to have acute respiratory illness symptoms (i.e. cough, shortness of breath) upon arrival to work or become sick during the day should be separated from other employees and be sent home immediately. Sick employees should cover their noses and mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or an elbow or shoulder if no tissue is available).
o Emphasize staying home when sick, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by all employees.
o Provide tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles for use by employees.
o Team members must clean their hands often by washing them with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. We have placed sanitisers in multiple locations to encourage hand hygiene. Rings should not be worn and one on one training with every team member signed off on.
o Perform routine environmental cleaning of all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs. Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces (for example, doorknobs,keyboards, cash registers, POS systems, remote controls, desks) can be wiped down by employees before each use.
o Staff canteen to be cleaned every hour and staff breaks not to be taken in groups.
o Constant updates for staff and from staff are required. It is essential to have a free and open method and channel of communication. Please use the staff lift for this purpose. We will also upload everything to our blog.
We communicate with them that we require our suppliers to adhere to current HSE best practice guidelines re Covid-19. Please find a link to the HSE’s article on the virushere: here
Note: Social distancing is a public health measure that is implemented during highly contagious outbreaks — current HSE guidelines suggest keeping at least 1 metre away from another person, other agencies recommend 2 metres if longer than 15 minutes is spent with another person. This is arbitrary and could change.