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How to go back to work safely

work safely

It’s a great time to look for a job in the restaurant industry, but it’s essential to do it safely. Here are tips to keep in mind as you re-enter the workforce.

As states across the country allow restaurants to increase capacity, we’re experiencing an influx of jobs posted every day. There honestly hasn’t been a better time to look for a great job in the restaurant industry, but it’s up to all of us to keep ourselves, loved ones, co-workers, and patrons safe. So if you’re ready to get back to work or already are back — here are a few tips straight from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on how you can stay safer when returning to work in a restaurant.

Keep up personal preventative measures.
We’ve been in a pandemic for over a year now, so I know you know to wash your hands and wear a mask. But sometimes, we all need a reminder to keep up simple personal preventative measures. It’s necessary to be diligent any way we can, and these few things can make a massive difference to the safety of yourself and others.

  • Wash your hands frequently. As restaurant workers, frequent hand washing is expected, so maybe I should say wash your hands obsessively.
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, or as long as it takes you to serenade your coworkers with Happy Birthday or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
  • Wear a mask and make sure it’s clean too. The CDC states that masks are effective against the spread of the virus from low-risk establishments to the highest-risk establishments.
  • Wear gloves when possible. The CDC suggests restaurant employees wear gloves when disposing of trash, removing used dishes and glassware from tables, and cleaning and sanitizing surface areas like tables and condiments.

Do your part to keep up workplace preventive measures.
Hopefully, your place of employment has implemented new COVID-19 policies, but we all need to play our part. Here are a few ways you can help maintain a safer work environment.

  • Frequently clean and disinfect high-volume touchpoints. Just to give you an idea of some commonly used items: tables, work surfaces, door handles (bathroom, front door, walk-ins), POS machines, bill presenters/tip trays, drink trays, bus tubs, condiments bottles, menus, really anything multiple people handle.
  • Keep windows and doors open when possible to increase ventilation. The CDC states that generally, being outdoors or in spaces with good ventilation decreases the risk of spreading COVID-19.
  • Be persistent with yourself and others when abiding by layout and spacing procedures implemented by management to maintain 6ft distance and limit the number of people within an enclosed area.

Stay safe on public transportation. 
Many people use public transportation to get to and from work, which has been a real obstacle during the pandemic. If you’re in this boat, the CDC has recommendations to increase safety as you travel.

  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before and after your trip
  • Wear a mask the whole time (even on the platform or at the bus stop).
  • Don’t touch your eyes, mouth, or face with your hands
  • Maintain your distance between other riders, and if possible, ride during off-hours.
  • Avoid using handrails, or bring gloves in case that’s not possible.

Know when to stay home.
Calling in sick can be a tough decision when you work in a restaurant for various reasons, but that’s going to have to change. If you feel sick, stay home, especially if you’re experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19. Here’s when to make that call.

  • Stay home and get tested if you’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, including fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscles or body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore through, congestions, or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea.
  • Stay home and get tested if you’ve been in close contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 or is showing symptoms.
  • Stay home if you’ve tested positive for COVID-19. The CDC offers various timelines for when an individual with COVID-19 can end isolation based on the severity of symptoms. If you test positive for COVID-19, you can find out the CDC’s guidelines for ending isolation here.

Get vaccinated.
Getting vaccinated is the only way you can ensure your safety against COVID-19. Life has to return to some form of normal, and the vaccine is quickly moving us in that direction. In fact, the CDC declared last Thursday, May 13, 2021,  that it’s okay for fully vaccinated individuals to be unmasked in outdoor and indoor areas and that social distancing measures are unnecessary. Vaccines are open and available to all persons over the age of 16 and are currently the greatest tool to combating the spread of COVID-19. Do yourself and all of us a favor and get vaccinated as soon as possible.

As more of the population becomes vaccinated, going back to work in a restaurant will only become safer. But, we still have a ways to go until that number increases. So to further increase the safety of yourself and others when heading back to work, it’s necessary to keep up with the procedures and preventative measures we’ve been using to combat COVID-19 — especially in restaurants where drinking, eating, and gathering are what it’s all about.

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Ashley Lange

Ashley Lange likes to cook, loves to bake and is always day-dreaming of her next meal. Ashley has spent the last 10 years in various roles within the food industry and is currently a server in Portland, Oregon.

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