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Encouraging customers to follow hygiene guidance

06 August 2020

The first weekend of July 2020 saw the reopening of pubs, restaurants and hotels across the country. But even the best plans come with variables that are hard to control for – in the case of the hospitality sector, it’s the customer.

There’s no doubt that the vast majority of the population are aware of the continued need for social distancing, as well as maintaining other habits that will help reduce the risk of contamination, such as wearing face masks and regular hand washing.

Indeed, shops and supermarkets have been operating this way for months so no one should be surprised that a pub or restaurant has similar protocols in place.

Perhaps the difference is the setting itself. Pubs and restaurants are inherently social spaces. It’s a completely different mindset from going food shopping and that’s why the hospitality faces a unique challenge in ensuring that customers follow hygiene processes.

Signage and labels are arguably the most effective method of communicating with customers and reinforcing a message. Signs reminding people to wash their hands should be placed throughout a building, especially in bathrooms and communal areas. This can be backed up with sanitation stations located at high-traffic areas, such as by the entrance of a building.

Labels can be placed at high-risk touchpoints like door handles and light switches. These act as great reminders to building occupants that there is a higher risk of contamination at these areas and so they should wash their hands after touching them.

Signage and labels should be backed up with regular communication to customers. A mix of channels is best to ensure that you reach as many as possible – website, newsletters and social media.

Communications should inform customers clearly and concisely what measures are in place and why. The why is vital and it shouldn’t be assumed that people already know. Ideally, through frequent communication the majority of customers entering a premises will be aware in advance of what protocols they should follow.

Finally, the message can be reinforced by greeting each new customer with a quick overview when they arrive. It can be as simple as pointing out where sanitation stations are or explaining that labels have been placed to designate high-risk touchpoints.

Plenty of hospitality businesses opted not to reopen on 4th July as they wait to see how things work out for the ones that did. Pairing that insight with the above advice should lay the foundations for a safe and successful reopening.

For more ideas and support on workplace hygiene, visit the resources page.