Background of the Global Pandemic
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an acute respiratory infection caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARSCoV-2).
The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic on 11th March, 2020. The first confirmed case in Sri Lanka was reported on 27th January, 2020. As of 9th October, 2020 a total of 4,488 confirmed cases, 3296 recoveries and 13 deaths have been reported in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka Response to the Pandemic
On 20th March, 2020 the Sri Lankan government declared a 24-hour curfew to combat the deadly viral infection. However, there has been intermittent lifting of the curfew which has led to some restaurants reopening after strictly adhering to the Ministry of Health protocols and guidelines.
Guideline to Restaurants
All restaurants in Sri Lanka are required to get a permit from the Ministry of Health before resuming operations. The permit is granted only to restaurants that adhere to the following guidelines;
- Personal Protective Equipment
The restaurant areas must be regularly disinfected, table tops, chairs, service stations before setting up the restaurant for a meal and at the end of the day. Hugging and shaking hands must be discouraged while all guests and staff must wear face masks at weddings. Social and Personal distance must be maintained at all times.
- Embracing Technology
Make arrangement to display the food and beverage menus using information technology on different screens on mounted on walls and if possible by way of ‘WhatsApp, Viber, Messenger’ or similar program to the personal smart phones of guests. The bills too may be sent to the smart phone.
- Seating Arrangement
Seating in the Restaurant must be arranged considering the social/personal distancing guidelines. Guests from a common group or a family group may be seated in large tables with the required number of seating. Guests from individual rooms should be accommodated in tables for two.
- Menu Planning and Dinning
All items on the planned menus must be simple and easy to prepare. ‘In Room Dining’ is forbidden. The use of food requiring minimal handling is recommended for production of appetizers and desserts. Prepared appetizers and desserts must be well covered and stored at the correct temperatures (minimum +5 degrees Celsius). Hot food production is recommended to be done to order. Practice ‘Pan to plate’ concept to minimize food holding
- Buffet set up / Service
The provision of sneeze guards for all food displays (buffet counters) is recommended. Food in the buffet must be stored at the correct temperatures. (hot at minimum +65 degrees Celsius and cold at not more than +7 degree Celsius. Recommend regular replenishing of food to 23 avoid holding larger volumes in the buffet.
The reopening of the restaurants in Sri Lanka has be necessitated by the reduced numbers on new Covid-19 infections in the country The authorities have therefore reopen restaurants with great caution to contain the virus and prevent a second wave of the Corona virus.