How to Make Your Server Stations Safe During the COVID-19 Pandemic
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The server station is a critical intermediary between front and back of house operations at a restaurant. Take special care to assess every movement and task for touchpoints and possible areas of transference of COVID-19.
Promote social distancing.
Server stations are hubs of activity, but precautions can still be made to mitigate person-to-person contact.
- Flow of traffic should be one way.
- This could be a big change for your servers and bussing staff. Post enter and exit signs and/or directional signs on the floor.
- Mark the spot where employees should stand at each area of the station. Use "stand here" floor signs or make large Xs using highly visible tape.
- Consider adding partitions or barriers in areas can't accommodate 6' between employees.
Encourage frequent handwashing and glove use.
Servers and bussers are constantly moving from the front of house to the server station, and any germs they touch on one item will transfer to whatever else they touch. A triple approach to hand cleanliness will provide optimal protection against the spread of COVID-19. Your staff should:
- Perform handwashing as recommended by the CDC, when they:
- Start work
- After a break or using the bathroom
- When changing gloves
- Wear gloves at all times when working.
- Consider medical-grade gloves that have textured fingertips and palms for a better tactile experience.
- If gloves are not used, servers and bussers will have to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer between each visit to the dining area.
- Use hand sanitizer if gloves become compromised and need to be changed.
- CAUTION: every utensil or piece of dishware from a table must be considered a possible vector for COVID-19. Consider designating one employee to bus all tables. Team members may want to help with this task if they have time, but by designating one person, the risk of exposure is reduced.
Because of their exposure to the public, OSHA classifies servers and bussers as having medium risk of exposure to coronavirus. Masks are imperative for this group.
Frequently disinfect high-touch surfaces
Server stations are filled with high-touch surfaces like coffee makers, coffee pot handles, ice machine doors/handles, serving trays, tray stands, and counters.
Consider replacing as many reusable items with disposables.
- Train your team to disinfect all high-touch surfaces as frequently as possible.
- Be sure your disinfectant is food-safe, on the EPA's list of approved disinfectants that kill COVID-19, and you're following any manufacturer instructions.
- ·Cover dishware and silverware supplies to prevent respiratory droplets from landing on them.
- Switch from cloth napkins, cloth tablecloths, and reusable silverware to single-use alternatives.
- Add water and coffee carafes to your table service to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
- Replace current menus with single-use or digital ones.
Recommendations and guidelines for coronavirus safety are still changing. Be sure to stay updated on the latest from the CDC, OSHA, and your state by using the links below.
Links to All U.S. States' COVID-19 webpages
OSHA's Guidance on Returning to Work (PDF)
CDC Resuming Business Toolkit (PDF)
❏ Handwashing reminder signs
❏ Handwashing instructional signs
❏ Liquid hand soap and automatic dispenser if station has a sink
❏ Automatic hand sanitizer dispenser and refills
❏ Reminder signs to maintain social distancing and wear facemasks
❏ Sign holders
❏ Hand sanitizer
❏ Facemasks and/or face shields
❏ Disposable gloves
❏ PPE organizers/holders
❏ Disinfecting wipes
❏ Disinfecting wipes holders
❏ Hands-free waste containers with lids
❏ Directional floor signs/decals (if implementing one-way traffic)
❏ Social distancing signs/decals/markers
❏ Barrier shields/partitions